What Mount Everest and the Grand Canyon have in common


Cookies required to read article? What an idiotic stipulation, there is no technological reason for them to require writing data to my hard drive to serve up some html.


At any rate, the national parks have it rough. They’re tasked with to keeping the most beautiful scenery the US has to offer available to the public while at the same time preserving it for the future public. I think overall they do a pretty good job… most parks are carefully managed to keep the slobbering hordes from trampling everything into dust, but the Grand Canyon is an odd exception because there’s no controls put in place to keep people from trying to descend into the canyon. Pretty much anyone can park at a trailhead and get themselves into trouble.

Compare to Yellowstone where pretty much every attraction has a ranger always on hand to prevent people from being idiots. You step off a trail at Yellowstone and it’ll be minutes before someone wants to have a chat with you.

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I’m not blocking cookies, but I couldn’t get past the cookiewall either.

Give this a try

That works. Thanks.

I’ll change the link in the story, too. Thanks @moosebrain!

FTA: The only natural enemy of the hole is the pile.

An increasingly numerous, wealthy and adventurous population combined with a reducing number of pretty places means that these sort of conflicts will be increasingly common.

Personally, I find mule trains (and other horsey things generally) to be much more of a blight on the landscape than a few endurance runners.

I’ve tossed the idea of climbing Everest around my head more than a couple of times but the more I research it, the more it becomes obvious that it’s become a very dangerous mountain climbing version of a diploma mill. Too many people with very little mountaineering experience but a sackful of money are getting on the mountain and due to sheer numbers causing problems. If I were ever to attempt it, and currently I wouldn’t because I don’t have enough experience, I’d hate to end up dying because I was stuck in a human traffic jam between a dentist from Fresno and graphic designer from Rhode Island. The world is full of adventures, challenges, and beauty. It’s a shame we have a tendency to flock in droves to a select few spots like teenagers fighting to all have the same brand name tshirt.

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Agreed. Reminds me of the phenomena of people driving in packs, as well.

My mother took me and my brother and my dog to the Grand Canyon when I was 11 or 12. A road trip, one of many, from Oregon to Iowa and back again. I was a fierce 11/12 year old and wanted to hike down the Grand Canyon solo. (This is like 1985 or so.) So my mother gave me a few hours and I scampered down the great canyon quickly, and there was lots of jumping across mule dung droppings (arcs of it). There were quaint little rest areas on the trail down and I would stop for water in this small structure of drinking water and shade. And the other travelers taking a rest hiking down or up were ALL FOREIGNERS. German, Japanese, other languages. It was an AWESOME experience. Me, enjoying USA @ under-teen years old, with the company of the rest of the world. No verbal communication. Only smiles and the present experience.

Yes, the Grand Canyon makes me yearn for pre-9/11.


Has anyone else read “We Swam the Grand Canyon: The True Story of a Cheap Vacation That Got a Little Out of Hand”. It was like something I’d read on Boing Boing. Back in 1955, the authors found some super cheap army surplus wet jackets and decided to swim the Grand Canyon, back before the river was dammed. This was also back before the modern outdoors gear revolution with advanced synthetics, aluminum struts and people who knew what they were doing. They actually made it, end to end, including a side trip up to the Grand Canyon park overlook where the rangers considered stopping them. They argued that stopping their expedition would just make things worse. If they failed, then half of California would be trying to raft the river. If they succeeded, they would have few followers for the rangers to deal with.

Then, a new generation took up adventure travel, and the river was dammed, making it a much easier course. If you read “West of the Thirties” by Edward T Hall, the anthropologist who later wrote “The Hidden Dimension”, he remarked that its seemed all the travelers he met in New Mexico and the like knew each other. They were all from one class and there were so few of them. That all changed after the war.

Agreed. I once asked a very experienced mountaineer/guide which Himalayan peak he would recommend. His reply; “Anything just less than 8000m high (and the there are dozens to choose from). You’ll have it all to yourself and, as a bonus, avoid the most extreme altitude-related risks.”

Well, this brought back a great memory. I grew up n the 50’s and early 60’s, about half in the suburbs and half in a cabin in Northern Arizona mountains. I was free to roam alone (with my dog) in the wilderness from a very early age, and as a result was quite comfortable in that environment.

The summer of 1964, between my 6th and 7th grade (I would have been about 12) I managed, with a friend my same age, to talk one set of parents into driving us up up the rim of the Grand Canyon and dropping us off with backpacking gear, and the other set of parents into picking us up at the same spot in two weeks. At this time backpacking was pretty unusual, and gear was primitive, army surplus type stuff. Trails in the canyon were empty for the most part, except for the main route the mules traveled, which might see a dozen or so hikers in a day. In some areas we went days without seeing any other people. Off main trails there was no one. About halfway through the trip we “ran into” a ranger, who talked with us for a while and moved on. We later discovered our parents had asked that the backcountry rangers keep a lookout for us. He must have thought we were doing OK. The biggest worry my friend’s parents expressed was that we would not wash our pots & pans well enough and would get sick.

Crazy? By contemporary standards, probably. My mother thinks so now. I can’t remember that anyone thought this was all that odd or unusual of a thing to do at the time. We were exposed to cliffs, loose rocks, rattlesnakes, rapids, cougars, and who-knows-what else. But we were also exposed to pristine wilderness, ancient Indian ruins, animals with no fear of humans, spectacular sunsets and sunrises, and the immense geology of the place, all without guidebooks or interpretive signs, with no adult telling us what to do or where to go or “taking care” of us. We had the opportunity to plan and carry out our trip and live with the consequences of our decisions. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Everest today: millionaires wearing oxygen tanks getting dragged up a mountain by a team of Sherpas.

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