Outdoor

You (probably) can’t Everest Mount Everest

Maybe you know this thing called Everesting, where people pick a hill of a certain height and bike or run up and down until they reach the appropriate height of Mount Everest.

If you say to yourself, “This is ridiculous!” Well you are right It’s absolutely ridiculous, as is trying to run a 100-mile ultra-marathon, climb mountains for fun, or eat an entire Taco John’s six-pack and pound in one sitting on your own.

But people do. More than 7,500 successful attempts of this kind have been recorded on Everesting, including the original Everesting on 400 meter high Mount Donna Buang in Australia in 1994 by a cyclist named George Mallory. If this name sounds familiar, it’s because Mallory shares a name with his grandfather, mountaineer George Mallory, who was lost on Mount Everest in 1924.

At the time he invented Everesting on his bike, Mallory was training for his own climb up Everest, which, as you may know, doesn’t involve cycling. (You may not know, however, that Everesting is worse than climbing Everest, according to Mallory, who told Outside 2016, “Everest by bike is, in my experience, more physically difficult than any other day on Everest.”)

You can find Everest anywhere you can find a decent sized hill. You can climb a large hill or a small hill and do it by bike or on foot. If you want to reach Everest Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, Colorado by bike, which is a road that is a little over 300 m high, it takes 28 laps.

If you wanted to climb 52-foot Mount Trashmore in Evanston, Illinois, Everest, it would take 559 laps.

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But nobody technically has Everested Mount Everest themselves. Seems pretty obvious, so why not?

If you guessed laziness, you are a little wrong. When you have guessed certain death, you are closer. But really, the correct answer is because it is next to impossible. Now we all love to refer to altitude in terms of equivalence to Mount Everest which is 29,029 feet above sea level. But do you know who climbs Mount Everest from sea level? Nobody. (OK, not exactly nobody – more on that later.)

Most Mount Everest climbs start in earnest at base camp, roughly 17,600 feet high, where climbers get used to the high altitude and haul supplies to higher camps for several days or weeks while waiting for good weather, and then climb 11,430 feet to the summit Push that lasts a few days.

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So if you want to go to Everest Everest from base camp, you have to climb to the top twice and then approximately to Camp III (23,500 feet). Just right? Not really. Few people have climbed Everest twice in one season, and few people have climbed it twice in a week. And nobody climbed it twice without sleeping between climbs.

And as one of the rules of Everesting says, you cannot sleep while attempting Everesting. This rule and getting a weather window that would allow 2.5 degree summit attempts, as well as traversing the dangerous Khumbu Icefall not just once, not twice, but six times make it next to impossible. Oh and also: it’s pretty much over the limit of human endurance at this point, so there is. Oh, and allowed.

A more viable option for Everesting Everest might be to begin in Lukla, Nepal, where the actual trek to Everest Base Camp begins. Lukla is about 9,385 feet and is about 40 miles from base camp on foot. Due to some ups and downs along the trekking route, your actual elevation gain from Lukla to Everest Base Camp is approximately 13,700 feet. So, if you just pull your ass from Lukla to the top of Everest without stopping, you get about 25,100 feet of elevation gain.

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And then you can just frolic back to Lukla from the summit, negotiating another 4,000-foot drop in altitude by hiking uphill almost all the way to Namche Bazaar. The total would be around 100 miles.

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All you need is a good weather window and a permit! And I think superhuman strength, endurance, and the uncanny ability to get used to nearly 20,000 feet of vertical drop without dying.

Option three, the easiest Everesting Everest option, would be to simply climb it from sea level. This takes a very long time as the sea is not that close to the base of Mount Everest – as Tim Macartney-Snape proved in 1990 when he literally started his Everest ascent in the waters of the Bay of Bengal and then went 745 miles through India and Nepal and then climbed Mount Everest alone without oxygen. Not that he was aiming for a speed record, but as the only person who has ever climbed Everest from sea level, he holds the current speed record at around 95 days (February 5, 1990 to May 11, 1990).

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In view of the no-sleep requirement for Everesting attempts, the approach “climb Everest from sea level – no, really from the actual sea” to Everesting Everest is probably not possible either. At least until we invent someone who is able to walk 750 miles to the top of the world’s tallest mountain without taking a nap.

All that math to say Mount Everest is likely safe to be Everested in the near future. I’m not saying it can’t, but I’m saying I’d bet you $ 50 that you can’t. That brings me four six-packs and a pound with a little spare change.

Brendan Leonard’s new book, I Hate Running and You Can Too, is out now.

Main illustration: Brendan Leonard

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