DIY: Climb Everest

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Everest affects. It’s a graceful, gentle mountain, even though it occasionally keeps some of us forever. In return, Everest offers the lucky rest of us a tremendous insight in ourselves and the human kind; as we and our  fellow climbers  are tried in brutally exposing situations. Everest also reveals the true soul of nature, in all it’s beauty, temper and might.

Finally, Everest shows you the grace of great dreams, fears overcome and, sometimes, triumph following the most desperate of outlooks.”

While researching Everest for this week’s theme, I came across this website, written by people who have climbed the mountain several times; it’s filled with all the insider information they wish they’d had before climbing. Summiting Everest is an extremely difficult goal to attain, yet this website lays out the steps (ha!) to completing it in a straightforward and clear manner. I’m not planning on making the climb, but I found it fascinating nonetheless.

Climbing Everest will cost you $25,000 or so. $10,000 of that is just for a permit from the Nepali government. You’ll need a letter of recommendation from your country’s Climbing Association.

Pack your gear in North Face soft packs or plastic barrels, keeping in mind that your luggage will be transported on yaks. As for food, “Potato chips should be Pringles, if not for the taste then for the hard case.” Garlic is excellent for altitude adaptation, as it thins the blood (forget about how your breath smells–you’re on Everest). Expect to lose 10-20 pounds even if you stuff yourself.

Bring at least 12 oxygen bottles, 20 if you make more than one summit attempt. Beware of buying used bottles refilled in India; buy straight from the company. If you end up having extra, save another climber’s life. This will make you feel good.

Beware of the sun’s reflection off the snow. Your nostrils can get sunburnt. The roof of your mouth can burn, making it nearly impossible to eat. Always wear goggles to protect yourself from going blind. Beware of avalanches, of bad ropes, of euphoria and psychosis, of bad leaders and bad weather, of letting the “no-rules” society formed on the mountain reveal a darker part of yourself you didn’t know existed. Beware of your own expectations.

“Everest is not about summiting, adding to your image, the conquest of nature or of other humans. If that’s what you’ve come for, you will miss out on the true treasure. You will become a prisoner of other people’s judgment in your desire of proving self-worth. You will climb blinded and feel an immense failure if not summiting. Or if successful – go home, celebrate your triumph and fame, and when the lights eventually are turned towards someone else, end up empty, again chasing new ways to get brief acknowledgments.”

On the mountain, drink plenty of water. Water will cure most problems. Turn back if necessary; it’s better to fail than to die.

Lastly, I think this quote is pertinent to all of our dreams, whether or not they include Everest.

It is truly marvelous to accomplish awesome, remarkable things and explore the unknown. Yet, your dreams should be pursued because they are sprung out of your own curiosity, not just a desire to impress. Be sure to climb Everest for yourself. Take great care to live free.

Take the experience back home with you. Forever remember that there are all kinds of remarkable things in this world to experience, a beauty and drama beyond our wildest imagination. All we have to do is to let our minds run towards our dreams, face our fears and try to accomplish the worthwhile. We might succeed or not, that’s not important.

The summit is such a small piece of the mountain. Most of the beauty and wonders are experienced during the climb.”

*All information, quotes, and pictures are from

On top of the world

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This is what it looks like to summit Everest:

How to be a sherpa


What you’ll need: a genetic adaptation to living in high altitudes, including unique hemoglobin-binding enzymes, doubled nitric oxide production, hearts that can utilize glucose, and lungs with an increased sensitivity to low oxygen*; rope

Songlist:  Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra

Further Reading: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, View from the Summit by Edmund Hillary

See? It's easy, just follow the yellow line!

Everyone’s favorite fact last week: 49 of 50 states boasted snow on the ground, including Hawaii.  Excluding, of course, Florida, the state that once captivated the country for months by not having its act together (if that’s all it takes, I’ll be famous in no time).

As a northerner, I scoffed at the south’s inability to handle its five inches of precipitation.  We Minnesotans are the type to store shovels in the trunks of our cars in case we get stuck, and provisions to last a week if the shovels don’t work.  In my winter-related arrogance, I conveniently overlooked the unprecedented three days of school cancelled in the Twin Cities due to a blizzard last month.  We’ve also gone well over the three “Snow Emergencies” budgeted for 2010-2011, aka the days the city plows every street, aka the days it’s good to have a garage.

In some places of the world, however, snow does not constitute an emergency but a way of life.  Take the Himalayas.  It is unfathomable to imagine a mountain range as majestic as that one sans snow–where would the beauty be?  I may never have the training or the courage to climb a Himalayan mountain (and I certainly don’t have the touch of madness that compels people to climb Everest), but I envy those who do.  I especially admire sherpas, some of whom have climbed Mt. Everest a dozen or more times, all while carrying another person’s burden.  It is their job, yes, but I find it altruistic nonetheless.

A sherpa and his pack

Technically, “Sherpa” refers to an ethnic group of people from Nepal, or those hired to guide mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas.  Thus, most of us cannot hope to become sherpas (though sherpa is sometimes used as a proprietary eponym for those who haul the belongings of others or invoked to imply knowledge of cold weather conditions).  Yet the allure is great–sherpa guides are people, mostly men, who don’t just climb mountains; they were born to climb mountains.  They are physically disposed for this act more than anyone else.  It makes me consider the question: what was I born to do?  What am I physically, mentally, or emotionally equipped for that 99% of the earth’s population is not?  So far, I’ve come up short on answers to that.

*According to wikipedia