Last Monday I kicked off the week with a video of Davey du Plessis sharing his story of survival in the Amazon at a recent FEAT (Fascinating Expedition and Adventure Talks) event in Johannesburg, South Africa. That same evening, climber Ed February also gave a presentation on the state of modern mountaineering. Ed, who has been climbing for more than 30 years, took a look at the correlation between the rise in the number of climbers on Everest since 1990 with the increase in the number of billionaires on the planet over the same period of time. Surprisingly enough, the growth rate of both are eerily similar, which has led February to believe that there are a growing number of mountaineers who have the money to climb big peaks, but not necessarily the time to do so. Instead of earning experience and skills the old fashioned way, namely through years of hard work, they simply pay someone to guide to them to the top, even on peaks they really have no business being on. This is a complete reversal of how things were done in the past, in which the climbers actually led the Sherpas up the mountain.
It really is a fascinating discussion and one that could spark some good conversation. Ed wraps up the talk with a good message for everyone to consider however, telling us not to worry whether what someone else is doing is “true mountaineering” and just focus on our own approach to climbing.
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