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Thread: John Oliver - Mount Everest discussion

  1. #16
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpencerVT View Post
    John Oliver did this very funny and very accurate segment on Mount Everest climbing recently.
    Everest seems to have become an example showing the stupidity of humanity....
    Great satire Spencer on what fools we mortals be!!

    What is telling for me is that in the photo of the line of climbers on the Hillary Step no one takes the initiative to break out of the line and lead up another section of the route. Maybe because the hired guides are too lazy and the clients lack the skills to do anything other than jug up a fixed line with an ascender.

    I guy I know from Nepal claims that the government is the one at fault since it allows this circus to continue. The $$ earned from the increasing number of permits issued is hard to resist. Meanwhile an ecological crisis get ignored.

    These days summiting Everest indicates to me: 1. You are in great physical condx, 2. You are well-off financially, 3. You have time to spend on a hobby.

    Mountaineering skills? Not necessarily.
    cb
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  2. #17
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    What is telling for me is that in the photo of the line of climbers on the Hillary Step no one takes the initiative to break out of the line and lead up another section of the route.
    cb
    Isn't that the whole problem on the South route? There is no other realistic way to traverse that section so everyone bottle necks in it? Breaking out of line probably means plummeting to your death.
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  3. #18
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Breaking out of line probably means plummeting to your death...
    In normal situations, yes. The route takes the path of least resistance.

    In a total exercise of Monday-Morning QBing, and the with the added ignorance of never having been there, I nevertheless wonder if the following bypass might be possible. It is more difficult for sure and requires some rock work. But as an alternative to waiting for hours might it be worth considering.

    Major downside -- One would need real climbing skills to do it: traverse, rotten rock, etc.

    (We should ask Rick Wilcox at IME!)

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    Nobody told me there'd be days like these
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB;449578t.
    Meanwhile an ecological crisis get ignored.
    What crisis?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    In normal situations, yes. The route takes the path of least resistance.

    In a total exercise of Monday-Morning QBing, and the with the added ignorance of never having been there, I nevertheless wonder if the following bypass might be possible. It is more difficult for sure and requires some rock work. But as an alternative to waiting for hours might it be worth considering.

    Major downside -- One would need real climbing skills to do it: traverse, rotten rock, etc.

    (We should ask Rick Wilcox at IME!)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    It would take so much longer it wouldn't be worth it

  6. #21
    Senior Member nartreb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    In normal situations, yes. The route takes the path of least resistance.

    In a total exercise of Monday-Morning QBing, and the with the added ignorance of never having been there, I nevertheless wonder if the following bypass might be possible. It is more difficult for sure and requires some rock work. But as an alternative to waiting for hours might it be worth considering.

    Major downside -- One would need real climbing skills to do it: traverse, rotten rock, etc.

    (We should ask Rick Wilcox at IME!)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Really hard to say without a better look but your proposed route looks truly nasty: exposed slab, then rotten-looking overhang, then snow cornice. I'd be tempted to stay alongside the main route, it looks like there's room just to the left. Either way, laying a new route at altitude is a SLOW process. Most Everest customers could not manage to summit if they didn't have fixed lines to speed them up, and they certainly wouldn't manage to carry extra rope and gear, even if they had the skill to use it. Personally, I see a crowd like that forming on any route that has a bottleneck, and I get off the mountain. I recall Angel's landing - wasn't nearly as crowded as in the Everest photo, but I just wasn't comfortable elbowing through a crowd in a high-exposure situation, even though the route wasn't particularly difficult and altitude wasn't a factor. I turned around after just a couple of gaps in the cables.

  7. #22
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puma concolor View Post
    My overall philosophy when it comes to mountain travel is that a certain amount of regulation is necessary to ensure that those who visit the mountains have a true mountain experience. Limits on numbers of climbers (whether it be Everest or Mount Whitney), blue bags, camping restrictions etc etc. But beyond that, I strongly believe that anyone who wishes to voluntarily participate in a mountain activity should be afforded the right to do so.
    In general, I agree with you that anyone who wishes to climb should be able to do so, but with the caveat that you should have a minimum level of experience, from which we can infer skill, and fitness, and that it is ethically acceptable*. If you lack these, you are endangering the lives of hundreds of others. The particular problem with the South/Nepalese approach to Mt. Everest is that there are virtually no regulations: according to the Oliver piece, an ~$11,000 climbing permit fee, and a doctor's note. There are no limits on the numbers of climbers. Defining what a "true mountain experience" is is subjective and a massive grey area, but Oliver's piece highlighted how Everest from the South certainly isn't.

    To your point about the sherpas freely choosing their form of employment, the sherpas are all but forced by economics into their jobs. (Oliver noted that not all sherpas are Sherpas, the latter being an ethnic group, the former being a job.) Those living in that region of Nepal essentially have to choose between poverty and being a sherpa. It's akin to being an Appalachian coal miner or Newfoundland fisherman. Do/did you really have much of a choice? These people need these jobs to survive, but they are all inherently dangerous. They still deserve regulations to afford whatever safety is possible, and the they deserve to be afforded respect. It is also a fair question to ask, is it morally justifiable to pursue bagging a peak at the expense of these people's lives, even if they are desperate for work. (Similarly we can ask is it morally justifiable to watch football or is the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar? Oliver, a huge football fan, has previously addressed the Qatar World Cup.)

    *It is my understanding that there are some geological features, particularly in the southwestern U.S. and Australia that are considered unethical to climb because they are sacred sites to native populations. There is at least one bona fide 4,000 footer, based on the AMC's 200-foot col standard, and officially surveyed, that is not recognized by any of the major hiking clubs because of ethics.

  8. #23
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    In normal situations, yes. The route takes the path of least resistance.

    In a total exercise of Monday-Morning QBing, and the with the added ignorance of never having been there, I nevertheless wonder if the following bypass might be possible. It is more difficult for sure and requires some rock work. But as an alternative to waiting for hours might it be worth considering.

    Major downside -- One would need real climbing skills to do it: traverse, rotten rock, etc.

    (We should ask Rick Wilcox at IME!)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    That route looks impossible without carrying lots of extra gear, etc. Don't forget, this is at like 28,000 ft and the weight of ropes, cams and other protection would probably kill most people at that elevation just walking around with it. And if they were already up there and hadn't planned for it - well then that route looks like suicide.
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  9. #24
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    *It is my understanding that there are some geological features, particularly in the southwestern U.S. and Australia that are considered unethical to climb because they are sacred sites to native populations.
    Cases I'm familiar with aren't just unethical but illegal (trespassing), e.g. Shiprock, Pueblo peak and the two other 12000-footers on Taos Pueblo land.

  10. #25
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    That route looks impossible without carrying lots of extra gear, etc. Don't forget, this is at like 28,000 ft and the weight of ropes, cams and other protection would probably kill most people at that elevation just walking around with it. And if they were already up there and hadn't planned for it - well then that route looks like suicide.
    .....and then there was this proposal dating to 2013. Just goes to show there have been issues for awhile with congestion. https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...r-hillary-step
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  11. #26
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
    .....and then there was this proposal dating to 2013. Just goes to show there have been issues for awhile with congestion. https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...r-hillary-step
    Exactly Skiguy!

    There has been a ladder in use for some time at the second step of on the Northeast Ridge route, near where Mallory and Irvine disappeared. Even Conrad Aker could not manage the rock moves to get past this step at 8,100 meters sans ladder.

    Theory is that when Mallory and Irvine did it there was a lot more snow, enabling them to bypass the rock face on the right.
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    Last edited by ChrisB; 06-27-2019 at 06:06 PM.
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  12. #27
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    Exactly Skiguy!

    There has been a ladder in use for some time at the second step of on the Northeast Ridge route, near where Mallory and Irvine disappeared. Even Conrad Aker could not manage the rock moves to get past this step at 8,100 meters sans ladder.

    Theory is that when Mallory and Irvine did it there was a lot more snow, enabling them to bypass the rock face on the right.
    Conrad climbed the second step. It took two try’s. The second time they removed the ladder. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/a...mallory-anker/

    A google search of “Everest second step” results in plenty of photographs of that area of the mountain.
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  13. #28
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    Isn't that the whole problem on the South route? There is no other realistic way to traverse that section so everyone bottle necks in it? Breaking out of line probably means plummeting to your death.
    The ridge line there is to thin to break off. It would turn a walk up into a technical route, makes no sense at all. What they should do, but they will not because they want the money. Is limit how many can summit on any day. Granted that would be a logistical nightmare to enforce.

  14. #29
    Senior Member Puma concolor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TEO View Post
    In general, I agree with you that anyone who wishes to climb should be able to do so, but with the caveat that you should have a minimum level of experience, from which we can infer skill, and fitness, and that it is ethically acceptable*. If you lack these, you are endangering the lives of hundreds of others. The particular problem with the South/Nepalese approach to Mt. Everest is that there are virtually no regulations: according to the Oliver piece, an ~$11,000 climbing permit fee, and a doctor's note. There are no limits on the numbers of climbers. Defining what a "true mountain experience" is is subjective and a massive grey area, but Oliver's piece highlighted how Everest from the South certainly isn't.

    To your point about the sherpas freely choosing their form of employment, the sherpas are all but forced by economics into their jobs. (Oliver noted that not all sherpas are Sherpas, the latter being an ethnic group, the former being a job.) Those living in that region of Nepal essentially have to choose between poverty and being a sherpa. It's akin to being an Appalachian coal miner or Newfoundland fisherman. Do/did you really have much of a choice? These people need these jobs to survive, but they are all inherently dangerous. They still deserve regulations to afford whatever safety is possible, and the they deserve to be afforded respect. It is also a fair question to ask, is it morally justifiable to pursue bagging a peak at the expense of these people's lives, even if they are desperate for work. (Similarly we can ask is it morally justifiable to watch football or is the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar? Oliver, a huge football fan, has previously addressed the Qatar World Cup.)

    *It is my understanding that there are some geological features, particularly in the southwestern U.S. and Australia that are considered unethical to climb because they are sacred sites to native populations. There is at least one bona fide 4,000 footer, based on the AMC's 200-foot col standard, and officially surveyed, that is not recognized by any of the major hiking clubs because of ethics.
    I dunno.

    Our differences seem to be more centered around social justice/political issues than around mountain issues. So I’m just going to stay right the heck away from that.

    As to the “true mountain experience” line of thought, though, a few points. In one of the other Everest 2019 threads, I brought up that a fairly close climbing friend of mine was among the “hordes” of climbers who assaulted the summit of Everest in that now famous photo from this year. I was in contact with him from the time he arrived in Kathmandu through his successful ascent. Consider this. I first became aware he was in Nepal on April 2nd and followed his climb all the way to the end. He started an uphill trek from Phakding at 8,563’ on April 4th and arrived at Everest Base Camp after a side acclimatization climb of Lobuche (20,075’) on April 15th. From there, it was the regular up-and-down acclimating that we’ve all heard and read about. Base Camp, perhaps, was a little bit cushy with excellent food and even movies but the higher camps most certainly were not. As the trip went on, my friend began to lose faith that a summit attempt was in the cards. Finally on May 19th or 20th, a weather window opened and everyone made a dash for the summit. On May 22nd, I got word that he had summited.

    Now I don’t know about you, but 17 days (Denali) is the longest I’ve spent on any mountain. April 2nd to late May (7-ish weeks) amidst some of the most spectacular mountain scenery on Earth pretty much crushes that even if someone else was carrying his shit. Cushy Base Camp and movie night aside, that seems like a pretty “true mountain experience” to me when compared to say a night in Lincoln followed by a day-hike of the Tripyramids. No disrespect to the Whites intended.
    Last edited by Puma concolor; 06-27-2019 at 08:59 PM.

  15. #30
    Senior Member TEO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puma concolor View Post
    Now I don’t know about you, but 17 days (Denali) is the longest I’ve spent on any mountain. April 2nd to late May (7-ish weeks) amidst some of the most spectacular mountain scenery on Earth pretty much crushes that even if someone else was carrying his shit. Cushy Base Camp and movie night aside, that seems like a pretty “true mountain experience” to me when compared to say a night in Lincoln followed by a day-hike of the Tripyramids. No disrespect to the Whites intended.
    For me, the trueness of my mountain experience is almost always inversely proportional to the number of people that I see. But that's just my view, which is why I would be hesitant to set regulations based on a someones definition of that term. Whereas if you were to define a set of prerequisites for a climbing permit, and set a cap on permits based on what would reasonably reduce the risk due to bottlenecks, then you have a could hopefully reduce the literal and figurative shitshow to a relatively objective standard, without reducing the equability of opportunity.
    Last edited by TEO; 06-27-2019 at 10:57 PM.

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