The inspiration for this show came after I saw a very well-produced documentary series called “Everest: Beyond The Limits” that’s available on Amazon Prime.
This extremely well-produced account covers numerous Mt. Everest guided expeditions over three seasons, and the cinematography is so beautiful that it makes you feel like you are right there on the mountain with the climbers. One of the most entertaining and emotion-stirring aspects of the show is watching the astonishing idiocy of ego-driven extreme competitors, who seemingly will stop at nothing to achieve their obsession of standing on the highest point on earth.
As I made my way through the episodes, I would often shout at the screen with exasperation at the behaviors and comments of the main protagonists. My need to vent results in a podcast episode that steps outside my usual content themes. However, I think there is some relevance here: it’s important to reflect on how our competitive instincts and goal-oriented mentalities can easily spin out of control to our detriment. In the case of Everest, overdoing it or doing it wrong can cost climbers their lives. Witness how 80% of deaths occur on the descent from the summit, because climbers extend past their limits and forget that getting to the top is only part of the challenge.
In this podcast episode, I throw down, and break down, five key aspects of extreme high altitude mountaineer that deserve scrutiny and perhaps recalibration. It seems these days that we are over-glorifying achievements—represented by ostentatious displays of wealth, physiques, power, and fame, and incredible athletic performances—performances that often transcend common sense and conflict with perceived honor the participant is trying to earn. Is your life void so large that you are willing to accept a 5% death rate on the mountain (310 overall deaths, 6,000+ summiteers…although death rate is slowing in recent as technology and safety measures improve.) If it’s just you on a wild ride (like the vagabond motorcyclist character in Season 1) to live for the moment, okay man go for it. If you have family back home, wow this is a tough endeavor to rationalize - unless you exhibit impeccable preparation, restraint, and strategy. That “personal summit” ideal just doesn’t seem to be enough for many folks.
I look forward to fielding your comments by email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind I’m a huge fan of high altitude mountaineering and the incredible adventurous spirit of people who are called to great challenges like visiting the most inhospitable places on earth. I just have to call BS on stuff like doing so with an oxygen tank on your face, being less than impeccably prepared, or soldiering on with a broken down body and putting yourself and others at peril.
After viewing a series on Mt. Everest, Brad comments on the stupidity of some of the participants on the climb. [01:51]
The incredible human spirit and the camaraderie of those climbers is amazing but the prioritizing of the end result over sensible concerns for safety can be compared with some aspects of the lives of elite athletes. [03:22]
You have a 5 percent chance of dying on your route to the summit. Above 24,000 feet bodies of the deceased, cannot be rescued [06:59]
The use of bottled oxygen is cheating, according to Brad. The used steel tanks of oxygen bottles are left on the mountain as litter. [13:39]
If you are going to attempt something so challenging, train and get in shape. [24:42]
Many of these inexperienced climbers put their own personal goals ahead of the safety of others on the mountain. [29:44]
The correct goal of high-altitude mountaineering is not to just get to the summit, but to the summit and back down safely. [33:03]
Appreciate the economic aspects of the whole thing. Many Sherpas have lost their lives helping westerners try to summit. [37:20]
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