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Your Next Vacation… Summit of Mt. Everest?

At least reporter Lauren Sherman from thinks so. But hey, here’s a thought… your lungs slowly fill up with fluid, you begin coughing up blood, and then gently slip into a coma and die, or better yet fluid leaks into your brain causing swelling, hallucinations, psychotic behavior, and then of course the coma and die part. These are the symptoms of high altitude pulmonary and cerebral edema, which is what would likely happen to someone following Sherman’s instructions for the “four day trip to the top”.

In her article on the Hardest to Reach Vacation Spots, she reports the following:

“Whether you’re traveling just six or eight days to the base camp of the highest mountain in the world, or all 29,000 feet to the top, this trip is anything but easy. First, climbers must travel to Lukla and acquire a permit from the Nepalese government, which can cost up to $25,000. Then, to reach Everest’s base camp, you must climb to Namche Bazaar and across Kwangde River, eventually ending up in Khumjung, Nepal. Two days later, you arrive in the Imja Tse Valley and travel to Kala Pattar, which offers a stunning view of Mount Everest. A day later, you’ll reach the base camp. After two weeks in the base camp acclimating to the altitude, a trip to the top takes about four days. Most climbers spend between $1,000 and $2,000 on expenses.”

I enjoy reading the top 10 lists on all subjects that the folks at come up with, but this one gave me a good laugh. Why, well the author’s recipe for death is certainly entertaining and honestly, the words “vacation” and “Mt. Everest” don’t belong together in the same sentence. The trek to Mt. Everest base camp is one thing (and I encourage everyone to give it a shot), but her suggestion that a “trip to the top takes about 4 days”, while technically accurate (assuming perfect weather and snow conditions), completely misses the mark and is serves as a reminder of the many misconceptions about Everest.

For one thing, the 4-day trip to the top on the by the most common south side route is no picnic and is only possible after 4-7 weeks of an expedition style siege on the mountain by essentially climbing it multiple times (at least to Camp 3 at 23,500) feet while ferrying gear and stocking the intermediary camps (1,2,3 and 4) with food and supplies. Secondly, in condensing the information into requisite 150-word bite, the reporter mixes up critical differences between trekking to base camp and climb to the summit and in-effect trivializing the whole process and providing a recipe for near certain death (unless you are a genetic aberration).

Being in the broadcast media industry myself I certainly understand the reporters dilemma in trying to condense what may be a somewhat complex subject into a short, easy to digest, sound bite. If you really are interested in the Everest experience whether 2-3 week trek to base camp (which anyone can do) or dream of climbing Everest some day, here are some good resources to check out.

Adventure Consultants – Base Camp Trek: This commercial outfitter has a nice overview of the trek – For Climbers: Some of the best Everest climbing info on the web

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