This week’s Last Week Tonight finds a snow-suited John Oliver tackling everyone’s favorite go-to metaphor for a significant challenge: Mount Everest.
Turns out the luster of climbing Mount Everest isn’t as shiny and exciting as it once was, which Oliver summarizes as going “from being a rare feat of extraordinary skill to something that looks like the line at Trader Joe’s.”
The advent of commercial expeditions in the ‘90s, which increased access and comfort when climbing the mountain, led to a boom in the amount of ascents since the first expedition in 1953. Between 1953-1988, there were only 260 ascents, but that number rose to a whopping number of 9,159 climbs as of 2018.
This has led to a number of problems: Limited summiting windows leave the mountain clogged with hordes of climbers, and the mountain is now littered with enough trash for The Washington Post to call the descending sludge a “fecal time bomb.” That’s not to mention the treachery is dangerous as hell for the Sherpa mountain guides and porters who prepare the route beforehand, and carry up tents, supplies and equipment during the expedition.
“For many climbers, climbing Everest is not unlike Simon & Garfunkel; there is someone along for the ride to the top, and there’s someone pulling all the weight,” Oliver rightfully compared.
Oliver also explains the problems with weak restrictions on who can climb the Nepalese side of the mountain. Two-thirds of climbers working their way up Everest take the Nepalese side because of its milder terrain and low barriers to entry, which only requires a fee of $11,000 and a doctor’s note deeming one “physically fit” to climb. The low barriers to entry have led to an influx of dumbasses and untrained climbers flocking to Everest for the sake of taking a photo and saying that they climbed Mount Everest.
Oliver laments the dangers the slow and overzealous climbers can pose on the expedition, and lists steps Nepal can take to prevent overcrowding, but he also does something much better: Oliver introduces his brand-new venture Adventures Indoors: Luxepeditions, “the world leader in getting people to the summit of Everest without ever actually going there.”
AIL’s product comes in the form of a face-in-hole photo generator, where you can insert a picture of yourself on the top of Everest “without posing any risk to yourself or others,” and Oliver ends the segment by doing just that: throwing on mountaineering gear, climbing a faux summit, crying out to the gods and posing for one glorious, artificial photo.
Visit thetopofmounteverest.com to soak up all that AIL has to offer, and check out the clip below.