Today marks the 60th anniversary of the first successful summit of Mount Everest. While that was a great achievement it was 60 years ago. Get over it. These days Sagarmāthā is a parade of lemmings blindly following each-other to the summit for the obligatory photo before shuffling back from whence they came. Modern weather forecasts and equipment make climbing Everest easy; 9 year olds can do it, 90 year olds can do it, as one mountaineering expert was recently quoted as saying: "These idiots don't know a crampon from a tampon, they've turned it into a cub-scout picnic".
He's got a point, two esteemed climbers threw their toys out of the pram recently when some sherpas asked them to wait five minutes on the climb. There have also been reports of hysterical crying when the shops at Base camp have run out of Everest snow-globes and banana milk.
Recently there has been a discussion about putting a ladder up the conjested bottleneck at Hillary Step, that's like putting a bunch of spa hotels on the route to the South Pole, or having a floating resort half way across the Atlantic so swimmers and rowers can stop for a shower, shit and a shave. Why not be done with it and have a helicopter taxi service ferrying lazy wannabe adventurers from base camp to summit?
So why do people do it? I asked my mum and she said "Why the hell would I want to climb Everest? If I want to be surrounded by gap year students and people looking for a life affirming experience I'll go to sodding Glastonbury". If you're looking for more justification of how uninspiring climbing Everest is, British climber Kenton Cool, has climbed the mountain a mind-numbing 11 times.
To mark the 60 year anniversary there are a number of attempted 'firsts' this year, as well as a new attempt at the oldest climber and highest number of successful ascents by one individual there are efforts at first climb while carrying a scale model of the Statue of Liberty, first climb dressed as a manatee, and first climb while continually whistling the national anthem of Andorra.
So what is there left then if not climbing the worlds highest mountain? Why not swim down the length of the Nile or climb the Gankar Puensum, or perhaps you should let go those feelings of insecurity which make you want to define yourself by doing something never done before and just do something actually tough? Something like the Ice Run perhaps.
Photos borrowed from Ralf Dujmovits