Wednesday, 23 April 2014

What's Something Worth?

Ever since I was a kid....I've had this fascination with people who climb Mount Everest.  I think around age 12....I watched some National Geographic piece that outlined the general expedition, and how rough it was.  In my mind...in the early 1970s....it really said something of a guy's character.  Me doing it?  Hell no.  You could offer a million bucks, I'd just laugh over the offer.  But I would sit for an hour and watch video of the guys making the effort.

In the past week or two....there was an avalanche at Mount Everest, and sixteen of the Sherpas died somewhere on the mountain.  Not western climbers or western journalists or western photographers.....plain local Sherpas from the area.  They grew up under the shadow of the mountain, came to realize a potential job of just walking around and toting stuff for wussy western folks from France, the US, and America.

Over the past two decades.....climbing Everest has become some status symbol.  There's been rich affluent teenagers who climbed it.....bankers....IT professionals....millionaires....etc.  A barebones trip, with limited Sherpa help, and nothing much extra....runs around $30,000.  Wanna go with a real Sherpa team and experts?  Figure around $65,000.  Want a professional cook, with internet capability in the camp, and the fancy stuff?  Figure around $90,000.

Wanna fly into the region and just sit around at the bottom?  Figure the tourist deals, hotel taxes, visa fees and such....to cost in the $7,000 for ten days.

All of this rate business is kinda stabilized....meaning that it has gone up much in a decade.    Today, the BBC came out with an update over the accident and hostile feelings over what the dead Sherpa families were offered as compensation.  $400 was the government package offered....for each dead Sherpa....just to pay for the funerals.  The families are openly hostile and think as a minimum....the rate ought to be $10,000 for each family.

What is being suggested is a general strike.  No lifting....no walking....nothing, until compensation is granted.

Generally, all of this is being viewed by western guys who do this as a profession.....as the floodgate about to lift.  They've all felt for at least a decade.....there had to be some massive cost increase coming, and it'll probably shock folks.

Double?  Would a guy pay $120,000 to get himself up to the top?  I'm guessing the majority are stupid enough to find various funds or go ask Grandma for capital for this deal.....and do this once-in-a-lifetime climb.  The thing is.....how do you really find a way of evaluating all of this, and saying $120,000 is really worth saying you climbed Everest.  What if it was $150,000?

It's kinda like getting into legal trouble and having some Republican Judge tell your lawyer that $150,000 would get him to ensure you a real "fair" deal.  Or having some county approval authority fix up your issues with the city council on getting something built for a $60,000 bribe.  Or getting your soon-to-be-ex-wife's lawyer to go easy on you for $150,000 as a bribe for his special attention.

What's it worth?

When Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed up Everest in 1953....I doubt if the entire expedition cost more than $4,000.  Course, they didn't have $2k special tents, or $900 sleeping bags, or fancy cellphones for talking to Grandma from the base camp.

I suspect the fancy label that I attached years ago to the climbing Everest has disappeared.  It's not really a status anymore of value.  It's just a rich guy's club.....a claim to fame that was worth something five decades ago, and today is worthless.  

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