sharperblue wrote:... can you even begin to imagine telling some corporate executive what to do after they've shelled out 20-60k to go up there? Yeah, good luck with that!
Nowadays I don't think that is the problem. It's the stereotype of the problem, and might still happen occasionally, but it's not really the critical situation on Everest nowadays (or other high-end guided trips). Remembering of course that I have not been to Everest, so have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about and should not even dare to have an opinion, so I'm told.
The crowds are a problem, yes, but the big guiding companies are only part of that. The image circulating around the net right now, taken by Ralf Dujmovits, of the queue above C3, does NOT contain climbers from many
(yes, some) of the big guided groups - it contains everyone else. There are just a LOT of people there right now, $60K-payers or not. And you need to remember that a bunch of those people in line are Sherpas, because most of those hundreds of people on Everest would not get past C1 without considerable Sherpa support, in the form of rope-fixing, load carrying and oxygen transport. As the skill level of climbers comes down, the Sherpa numbers need to go up. Great, if you're a Sherpa!
From what I've seen of these types of $60K clients, in Antarctica - on Vinson and the Pole, sharing personnel with the Everest/7S circuit - and on popular mountains elsewhere, is that the $60K exec is actually pretty trusting of his expensive western guide and will do what he says. They're smart people, even if they're assholes, or not (most are nice). He (and it's almost always a he) is used to risk and failure and hiring people outside of his expertise. So lay off Donald Trump, OK?
These people also have the funds to fail and try again next year, as they often do. It's the people who bank everything on a budget operator and 'need' to succeed, who can't afford to fail, that are a worry.
I hate to say this, and I had to re-think the same way for Denali, after climbing it years ago, but the 'problem' is either certain
unguided - but incompetent and inexperienced - climbers or, in the case of Everest, 'climbers' on budget trips with no guide and minimal Sherpa support. Skimping on 'luxury' / security is fine, I do it voluntarily, but the people doing it nowadays are people who do not have the experience or skill to do it, and don't know, or care, when they are in over their heads. But the budget companies in KTM still take their money, and those companies have increased their numbers in recent years. It's not just Asian Trekking and Monterosa any more. I remember on Denali seeing clusters of guided clients from one of the famous companies, who were woefully unskilled and out of their depth, but they were being looked after
. The climbers that caused the most concern were the equally incompetent and inexperienced unguided people, who should
have had a guide. These people seem to be increasing in number (though maybe not on Denali, fwiw). Sure, America is the land of the free, we're free to kill ourselves if we/you want, but don't take others with you when they're forced to try and rescue you.
I've never been a client on a guided expedition, so normally I'm strongly - some would say too strongly - in favour of going unguided and anti-masscommercial guiding. Just to be clear - I believe it's better to start small, build your skill, get your own experience, don't buy short-cuts and go as high, or as hard, as you can under your own steam. Don't endanger others and truly own your successes.
But increasingly people do not want to do this. If they are ambitious for Everest, but woefully inexperienced, they should hire the best guide service they can. Not try and wing it on the cheap by following the crowds, believing in safety in numbers. You are David Sharp. It is these people, not the Mr. $60K, who are found slumped in the snow, screaming at their Sherpas to keep going.
In the end of course, people will do what they want, no matter how stupid. They are mostly free to do so, and mostly that's a good thing. I'm not in favour of more regulation, on any mountain anywhere. I've spent too much time organising my own expeditions and negotiating red-tape to want that. As I've ranted before, my main concern nowadays is not how stupid people choose to hurt themselves and waste money, but how their actions affect the rest of us who choose to stay the f#@% away from Everest (or AmaDablam, or ChoOyu etc). When this Everest shit hits the media it increasingly leads to the mainstream public seeing 'climbing' through the filter of this Everest circus, and they judge, and act, accordingly. They are legislators, insurers, journalists, friends. Ramifications of Everest events bleed out into the wider expedition community, affecting access, logistics, peak fees, regulation and local cultures. People might say "Just stay away then Damo you wanker", and I do, but it's not that simple. A knee-jerk on Everest hurts climbers in Mugu. To me, that
is the problem.