You have arrived in Lukla.

Describe or draw your sleeping bag in the space below.

Sample responses:

  • It’s a four-season goose-down number rated to -20° Celsius.
  • It’s got neon ridgey-didge swirls on it, and is filled with artificial down.
  • It’s printed to look like bacon and zips into feet so you can walk around like a yeti and/or have wrestling matches.
  • It is a dead tauntaun.

If you have a down sleeping bag rated for snow camping, continue up the Khumbu Valley to Namche Bazaar.

Describe your level of fitness below.

Sample responses:

  • I completed a mini mighty man pool triathlon three years ago.
  • My Fuel Band says my daily output is equal to one Tombstone cheesy-crust rising cheese pizza or two “meal-size” razzamatazz smoothies from Jamba Juice.
  • I run 7-8 miles four times a week and make my own goji paste.
  • I make my own chafing cream.
  • I have Nepalese prayer flags on my deck because they look nice.

If you can run 40 miles a week easily and without injury, or have a lower resting heart rate than BPM in a Joni Mitchell song, continue to Base Camp.

Wait, are you rich?

If you’re not rich, you shouldn’t even really be here.
Leave if you are not wealthy.

Why do you want to climb Sagarmartha?

Sample responses:

  • What is Sagarmartha?
  • For spite.
  • So I can plank on the top, completing my planking tour of the seven summits.
  • I didn’t get into grad school.
  • I want less feet.
  • To challenge myself.
  • To challenge my guide.
  • Because it’s there.
  • Because it’s fame fame.

If you are here to challenge yourself and revere nature,
continue up through the Khumbu Icefall
to the Western Cwm.

What food would you normally eat
during a camping trip?

Sample responses:

  • Clif bar with a Clif bar dessert.
  • Cold pizza.
  • Mac and cheese in a one-liter Trangia.
  • Dehydrated lentils and peas in a Jetboil.
  • Salami, port, Tang and ‘shrooms.

If you subsist on a high-protein diet of dehydrated foods while in the mountains, continue to Camp 1.

You have to spend hours upon hours resting in the tents, with no appetite for food and diddly chance of sleep. What story do you recount to your fellow climbers?

Sample responses:

  • A hilarious story about a duck going into a bar and ordering a bowl of nuts again and again, even though the bar doesn’t have nuts. Part of the payoff comes in having a really, really long setup. You have to really get across that the duck wants those nuts for the thing to work.
  • The time I got stuck in a canyon after hiking in on my own with no good plan for self-preservation and ended up having to saw my arm off one taut, panicked ligament at a time, eventually slipping out of my own hand as if it were a wet dishwashing glove.
  • Maybe the time I BASE-jumped off a cliff in a wingsuit with a boombox strapped to my back and landed on a trampoline and dunked a basketball, or the time I went naked rafting, or the time I was in a Warren Miller movie as “chairlift disaster guy.”
  • A story about this hiking trip I was on in Mongolia, where the guide offered us some kind of local drug, and I didn’t know what it was, but I couldn’t be rude and refuse so I took it. I never, never do drugs, and was convinced I was a falcon for three of the longest hours of my life, and now I can’t look my infant daughter in the eye.
  • Trip highlights from the time I was on The Price is Right.
  • The time I got wed to George Alexander then had my marriage annulled, then danced with a snake, then had waffles for dinner, all inside 48 hours.

If you can relate a story that takes under five minutes, has an end, and doesn’t involve one-upping someone else’s extreme adventures, continue up 6000 feet to camp 2.

You encounter a traffic jam
while ascending the mountain.
What do you do?

Sample responses:

  • Hive-five myself that I get a rest on the ascent up this godforsaken mountain.
  • Resign myself to death by hypothermia. Go to sleep using my beanie as a butt cushion.
  • Run around the staff who are fixing ropes up ahead and help myself to open mountain. Ropes are for wimps and tourists! Swear at everyone in their native tongues for good measure as I pass.
  • Make sure I’m not the traffic jam.
  • Pant, mouth open, eyes closed.
  • Engage in an “I’m cutting the rope below me!” pantomime with the person behind me.
  • Rapelle into a crevasse for shelter like that guy did in Touching the Void.

If you would wait patiently and abide by mountain etiquette in a traffic jam situation, continue up the Lhotse Face to camp 3.

What does “technical” mean to you?

Sample responses:

  • “Authentic,” like my technical plaid from Patagonia.
  • It’s a cooler way of saying “LITrally” for hyperbole, without actually (literally) meaning “literally.”
  • When the incline of the mountain face is too steep or obstacle-strewn to safely play Candy Crush while hiking.
  • It’s something you probably wouldn’t understand, sweetheart.

If you recognize the dangers inherent in even a class 3 climb when at altitude and in the elements, continue up the South Col to camp 4.

Take a moment to dry heave and/or
hallucinate Smoky the bear roasting poblanos.

There is nasty weather coming in, leaving you enough time to summit and return to camp 4 only if the system moves slowly. What decision do you make?

Sample responses:

  • Push for the summit, because I’m a fast walker and I just gunned a 5-Hour Energy.
  • Retreat to camp 3 and wait for the system to blow over. We can get an early start just after midnight and try another summit push.
  • Do a little “I can’t decide” dance out on the ridge.
  • Picture $60,000 dollars blowing bill by bill off the roof of the world.
  • Take a selfie.

If you delayed your summit push until tomorrow, you may continue up through the brutal, hyperventilate-y, “I can’t even” air to the Hillary Step.

Do you have Sherpas helping you?

No? You were never even here.

Yes? Take another labored step.

Are tour group decisions being made to support the safety of everyone on the mountain?

No? You have become just another permanent landmark on the highly trafficked route to the summit.

Yes? Take another double-gravity step forward.

Have you lucked upon a window of perfect weather conditions and minimal group complications on this particular day?

If you have, you may continue to the summit.

Now get the fuck off the summit, quickly. We never guaranteed you anything about getting down.