Ramble On

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Outside Diatribe

As a follow-up to my recent seven summits post, I noticed the emphasis on “adventure tourism” coverage of summiting Everest in this month’s Outside magazine.  There were three articles – in the first, “Meet the New Boss,” by Grayson Schaffer, there is the story of California guide Adrian Ballinger who plans to spend the Everest season taking experienced climbers to “the top of the world.” 

Quoting from the article now:

“The idea is to make it from the U.S. to the top of the world and back in just 40 days, paying $89,000 each, roughly twice the average cost of a guided Everest summit.” (note)

In a second article, entitled “Show of Force,” reported by Deepak Adhikari, we read that the base camp at Everest will be patrolled by armed police.  Apparently there are as many as 1,000 people in the camp during climbing season, and a need for law enforcement has evolved there.  Schaffer refers to the crowds as a “high-altitude conga line;” to me it sounds like tolerating the environment there might be a challenging as the climb itself.  

Then there is a final article, “Express Descent,” by Ryan Krogh, which describes “a daredevil’s plan to jump off the top of the world” in a wingsuit.  This involves summiting Everest, and then BASE jumping off of it..the whole shebang is sponsored by the Discovery Channel.

I love Outside magazine, and have since I began reading it in the 1970’s.  They continue to offer good journalism on less exploitative topics, and I enjoy the gear reviews, often taking them into consideration when equipping my hikes in Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest.  However, reading the Everest articles in this month’s edition was a bit of a downer, because they’re reporting nothing but pure consumerism – I can’t read a stitch about adventure in any of the three of them, even between the lines.

Note – the article mentions that the typical duration of an Everest summit is 2.5 months – 75 days, so this excursion cuts the time in half as well as the cost.  This doesn’t acknowledge the additional preparation that legitimate guides require – high altitude and ice climbing, for example – or the cost of getting to Nepal and the departure point for the route to the summit.

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