Am I being too hard on this chap who wants to climb Everest?

Dear xxxx,

Many thanks for your time earlier this week and I understand where you are coming from with your interest in going to Everest.
On a personal note, however, I am concerned about your lack of experience and, as a result of that, would feel uncomfortable about you being with my group. I know that you plan on going on a climbing course in January but I only recruit people who are already climbers and mountaineers, and have been for some time, and are therefore suitably well qualified by experience. It is only with years of experience that things become second nature.
I know that you feel that you may pick up all the skills very quickly but the mountain demands a lot of respect. If the conditions take a turn for the worse, or if your Climbing Sherpa were to become incapacitated, then you may find yourself on your own and need to be wholly reliant on your own ability to deal with steep terrain in a potentially very demanding and ever changing environment.

I can’t have a situation where more experienced climbers, or my Climbing Sherpas, have their lives, or their summit bid, jeopardised as a result of a very inexperienced member in the group.
It is an all inclusive trip and is already very competitively priced. There are a couple of operators out there who are similarly priced, or slightly cheaper, but generally they don’t provide as comprehensive a package. Anyway perhaps they will be open to negotiation – but I’m afraid that I am not.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Mosedale

So come on folks … am I being too harsh here? Any thoughts?

The worrying aspect is that ‘I’m good in the gym’ and ‘I can learn skills really quickly’ just doesn’t cut the mustard with me. I find it worrying that some people are completely naive and feel that they can watch a programme, or read a book, and then ‘give it a go.’ Everest is too big and too serious to just come along and ‘give it a go.’ It demands a huge amount of respect and it is this approach that will be the undoing of people every year. And unfortunately that then tarnishes the reputation of Everest and undermines the achievement of the climbers and mountaineers out there who do approach it with the right background and mountaineering pedigree.

‘It’s been my lifelong ambition for the last 5 years.’ Well unless you are only 5 years old then that isn’t a lifelong ambition. And why haven’t you done something about it in the last 5 years then (which, with a bit of hard work and plenty of time on the hill, would possiby be long enough to get yourself suitably well trained by the way).

I am all for people venturing in to the realms of ultra high altitude mountaineering – personally some of the most rewarding experiences that I have had have been on expeditions with like minded people. But start at the beginning and work your way up. I know that not everyone feels that they have the time, or money, to go on loads and loads of trips and work their way up through the ranks. But even so, don’t just dive in with Everest. UK hills, UK rock and UK (Scottish) winter all provide fantastic opportunities to further your skill level and be subjected to some ever changing and demanding conditions (as well as some fantastic memorable days out). If you can get to The Alps and maybe an expedition or two as well then this will be a bonus.

But don’t turn up to Everest to ‘give it a go’ and be surprised when it spanks your arse.

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