I've just begun reading Anatoli Boukreev's book The Climb and am fascinated by the wealthy dilettante types who will put up 60k to 100k to be guided up high altitude trade routes like the South Col, etc.
Damn, that's a whole lot of shekels to bag an icy peak, and the scenery obviously can't be beat...and I can't discount the determination and tenacity and stamina displayed by these high-strung, fidgety clients who somehow end up on top of the world's most famous summit--god knows it is something I could not accomplish even if I paid ueli steck or whoever one million dollars to tie a rope around my neck and drag me to the top on an windless day.
seems like, what with the fixed ropes and the expert guiding, and the sherpas carrying your ipad and your 80lb pack for you, it is more or less like putting one foot in front of the other, though. at worse, I figure it is like the equivalent of running 3 and one half marathons...spread out over about 7 days...at a fairly slow jog, or even at race walking speed, considering the weather and less dense atmospheric pressure...THAT would be the figurative " misery index" level, I imagine!
so I'm thinking why bother with all that sh!t in the first place? the wasted time in a foreign country, exposure to deadly microbes, etc. why not create a super realistic virtual Everest experience that almost re-creates the conditions up there?
you get a good used Stairmaster for about 3K and you pay some starving Caltech grad student 30$ per hour to help with all the 3D digital technical nonsense involved--like a good quality imaging helmet (used, 20k?) the client wears on his head that projects every single imaged detail of the south col route, whichever way he turns his head, you know? select clients would pay good money for this, assuming they're like a mid-level physician at a university hospital or a struggling Culver City "entertainment" lawyer who don't have 75K for the real thing...but maybe 30K for the next best thing!
--in his right hand he moves a mechanical ascender along a 5ft section of 9mm, up and down, up and down (remove the internal cam thingy)...and in his left hand he jabs his 70cm ice axe into a suitably tilted fixed square of thick Styrofoam--which I run over and have to replace every 500ft of "elevation gain"
but the quality here comes in the immediate "external environment" .... like a fully enclosed U-Haul rental truck that I fill with 9x9 inch blocks of ice from the ice company, and a dozen high power fans to whip up a suitable wind chill approximating, say, 20 below zero, Fahrenheit. ( I never figured out how those people defecate up there, wearing five layers of winter gear on a 30 degree ice slope, in a 50mph wind--pinching a loaf would be problematic at best and not featured in The Everest Experience.)
same with bivys and camp meals and other time wasting nonsense--delete that stuff as well--so for 20k to 30K you get about 5 days on the Stairmaster, 2 or 3 dozen Styrofoam blocks, a rental truck that parks in your own driveway, which is filled with 9x9'' ice blocks and hi power fans; your own Caltech computer geek to monitor the high powered computer that delivers mm by mm exact virtuality of the ice fall, western cwm, Hillary step, the summit itself, along with a quality sound track of hurricane force winds and your own labored breathing; and some sort of a calibrated face mask you wear over your mouth that limits oxygen intake, just like on Everest, and maybe an old retired Army nurse to externally monitor electrocardiograms and brain waves, the pulse oximeter, whatever. Plus you get to wear the provided and dramatic-looking high altitude North Face climbing one-piece outfit, and 1000 dollar double boots and crampons, because it will be freezing ass cold in that U-Haul rental.
best of all you save about 50 thousand, and essentially you have conquered mount Everest
i'm still brainstorming for more ideas on this