(Illustration by Barry Blitt)

30 Times

Jack Handey

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Don’t like to brag, but I have climbed Mount Everest 30 times.



The first time I climbed it, I was only ten years old. I was lucky to make it to the top. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was wearing only corduroys, a windbreaker, and Keds.

After that I decided to get some real mountain-climbing gear. I got some boots with those spiky things on the bottom, and I got one of those ice-pick things.

To be honest, you don’t really need the ice-pick thing, but it looks cool in photos. You might also want to take some rope; any kind will do.

I have climbed using oxygen and without oxygen. Once I climbed using helium, so my voice would sound funny. When I was younger, I climbed Mount Everest five times in a row. Every time I got to the bottom, I said to myself, “What the heck, I’m going back up.”

I guess I must have been getting bored, because about my 15th time, when I got to the top, I piled up a bunch of rocks to make Mount Everest a few feet higher, and then stood on that. But the next time I reached the peak, someone had scattered the rocks and left a sign that read, don’t pile up rocks. Screw you, I’ll pile up rocks if I want to!

Whether it’s rude signs or altitude sickness, Everest is always a challenge. Once I was within a few hundred yards of the summit when I had to turn back. I remembered I had to go to a bachelor party back at Base Camp, and I would have been late. Another time I made the mistake of starting my climb after dark. Also, I was drunk. I stumbled around all night. Finally, at dawn, I struggled onto the summit. But it turned out to be the wrong mountain!

Probably my most difficult assault on Everest was when I attempted to climb it nude. I hadn’t started out nude. But it was a nice, warm day, and on my way up I decided to take off my clothes and catch some rays. A blizzard suddenly moved in and blew my clothes away.

I had a decision to make: I could turn back, or I could continue on, naked. I decided to go on. The blizzard got worse. I became disoriented. Finally, I spotted a Sherpa’s hut and knocked on the door. The Sherpa answered. “Excuse me, sir,” I said, “but I’m climbing Everest and I’ve become nude.” I asked if I could spend the night. “You can spend the night,” he said, eyeing me suspiciously. “Just don’t try any funny business with my daughter.” It was then that I noticed a beautiful, buxom girl peeking out from behind him.

To make a long story short, I did make it to the top, wearing a woman’s dress and carrying a load of shotgun pellets in my buttocks. Sometimes I wonder: How many more Everest climbs do I have in me? A hundred? Two hundred? It’s hard to say. All I know is that I hope I can keep climbing Everest until the day I die. And even after I die, maybe some type of high-voltage stimulator could be implanted in my brain, so that I sort of flop uphill, spasmodically. That’s my dream anyway.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: Illustration by Barry Blitt

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