Thursday, September 27, 2007

"What is it to die, but to stand naked in the wind and melt into the sun."

This is just utterly mind-boggling. It seems some people aren't satisfied with standing atop the world's tallest mountain. Some of them must do it buck nekkid:
Nepalese mountaineering authorities are reportedly outraged that people were ditching their clothes on Mount Everest, which is worshipped by some villagers.

President of Nepal Mountaineering Association Ang Tshering told AP that following last year’s record by a Nepali climber, who claimed the world's highest display of nudity while standing on the 8,850m summit in temperatures about minus 10 degrees Celsius [emphasis added--ed.], restrictions should be implemented.

“There should be strict regulations to discourage such attempts by climbers,” Tshering said.

Tshering also said that villages had also complained to the government about the “obscene” behaviour.

Thousands of climbers had reached the mountain’s summit since it was first conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
I say let 'em do it. And then usher them directly toward Darwin's Queue.

Restrictions? Man, that's funny. If negative 10 degrees C doesn't discourage people from disrobing, will a new law? BWAH HA HA ha ha ha...(choke, sputter). And who's going to enforce it? They're going to have to find a whole new breed of bureaucrat who is tough and/or stupid enough to stand at the top of Everest and hand out nudity citations.

The law of the slippery slope demands that eventually mere nakedidity will not be enough. I can hear it already: "Hey baby, want to summit with me?"

UPDATE: To respond to comments. Climbers start out in "groups," more or less. However, by the time they leave the last camp to try and make the summit, the men are getting separated from the boys, so to speak, and the groups tend to straggle out. It's just about an imperative that summiting occurs no later than about 2:00 PM (IIRC). Any later than that, and the climber won't be able to make it back to camp before dark. Get caught out on that mountain that high up after dark, and you are dead. At this point, climbers can't afford to do anything but get their butts up and back down. Anyone who needs help will likely only get it from their guide and their Sherpas. If the guide and/or the Sherpas can't get to them, it is very unlikely that any other climbers will have the experience and fortitude to help anyone else. By midday the line of climbers is so spread out that most of them hit the summit alone.

Also, "help" doesn't always mean help. There isn't a whole lot that can be done for someone who is running behind, except to catch them and turn them around before it's too late. If they stay out too late, like I said, they are dead.

I was being completely facetious about having sex at the summit of Everest. That high up, the body ceases to function correctly because of lack of oxygen. At that point, oxygen bottles keep you alive and conscious, but that's all. There's no extra oxygen for doing anything besides going up and coming back down. Your metabolism can't even work correctly, and for the last couple of days you probably haven't eaten anything other than a few pieces of candy because your body simply can't process food due to oxygen starvation.

Any slight bit of extra weight is discarded. That's why the path to the top is littered with empty oxygen bottles. The weight of an empty bottle or two or three could slow you down enough to get you killed. There has been a movement (of sorts) to discourage this to reduce litter. Some of the more experienced climbers will pick up an empty bottle or two to try and reduce litter, but a large-scale clean-up of the summit is just about impossible. It's the most extreme environment on earth, and any little thing can get you killed. A very few, very experienced climbers have summited without oxygen, but it is not possible to do so for the average climber.

No one is going to "steal" someone's clothes to prevent them from getting naked at the summit. It would mean more weight to whoever took the clothes, and it would be a certain death sentence to whoever was left exposed. No one is likely to want any "reward" because taking the clothing from someone would certainly cause one death (the naked person's), and possibly two (your own).

For plenty of details about what it's really like to climb Everest, I recommend Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer.


  1. Don't climbers go in groups? The first time someone strips down and another person in their group steals their clothes will be the last time anyone strips down on that hill.

    Offer a reward to any climber who brings back the clothing after such an incident for incentive. There's nothing quite as effective as a free market solution to a problem.

  2. I say let em. Darwin will take care of it when they freeze their reproductive parts off.