Spring in the Himalayas brings with it the start of the brief Everest climbing season – and for the next six to eight weeks, a thousand or so foreigners will descend on Nepal in a bid to scale the highest mountain on the planet. The weary climbers who make it to the top will join an exclusive club of roughly 8,500 people who’ve summited since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s first successful ascent on May 29th 1953.
But after almost a century of Everest expeditions, 288 deaths and several tonnes of festering rubbish left behind, can we finally call time on these Western vanity projects?
For many adventurous souls, climbing Everest is both a topographical and existential pinnacle – and a few years ago I too harboured ambitions of one day reaching its icy peak. At least that was until I started to research the finer details; dozens-deep queues to the summit, thousands of empty gas canisters, scuffles between climbers, and frozen corpses. Would an ascent have provided anything more than a massaging of my white, middle class ego?