More Than Just a Mountain Top 超越众山之巅


You wouldn’t think of the area just below Mount Everest as a “hot” place. When most people think about the tallest mountain in the world, “icy,” “treacherous,” and “windy” come to mind. Contrary to popular belief, heat was one of the principle factors that kept me from summiting this year, just beneath Camp 4, 1,000 meters below the top.

I had been working towards the goal of summiting for a better part of 6 years, a major milestone moment of a much bigger endeavor. It started back in 2010 when I sat down and listed 100 bucket list items as a thinking exercise. I was, at the time, putting together the pieces of a puzzle that would end up becoming the JaYoe World Tour. The tour was a 5-year long cycle around the world incorporating my love of travel, filmmaking, and living adventurously. It was also a vehicle for checking off all my bucket list items by the completion of the tour, no matter how unachievable or unrealistic I thought them to be.

Number one on the list… Summit Mount Everest.

I had no idea how I would go about accomplishing this goal. In fact, I never climbed a mountain in my life. All I knew was that summiting Mount Everest was a symbol, a symbol of everything I thought was impossible. In my mind, normal people didn’t climb Mount Everest, they watched people on adventure shows do it. Real life has rules, managed risk, and eliminated the possibility of things like climbing to the top of the world.

But as soon as I moved beyond the reasons I couldn’t and shouldn’t do it, I started inching my way to the summit.

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Climbing Mount Everest requires a few things as prerequisites: money, which I surely didn’t have enough of, and experience, of which I had none. Financially, the cost to climb Everest is substantial. Adding up gear, flights, permits and hiring an expedition company, I was looking at close to $80,000. When you think about what can be bought with $80,000, the mind reels with images of luxury cars, a heaping spoonful of amazing vacations and even a house to live in. I had a mission in mind though, so over the subsequent years I pushed aside buying those things for myself and instead put everything I made into a special “Everest Fund”. I am not a wealthy person, but I stashed almost all the money I made into this fund for the following 6 years and eventually, I made it work.

Gaining climbing experience was another story. Climbing Everest requires that you understand how your body behaves at high altitudes. You have to know the effects of oxygen depravation and appreciate the endurance it takes to climb. So over the course of 5 years I climbed ever higher and higher mountains. First stop was Haba Mountain in Lijiang (5800m), then Yuzhufeng in Qinghai (6178m), and topped off with Muztagh Ata in Xinjiang (7509m). Getting up over 7500m meters gave me real understanding and confidence, knowing that I could withstand and achieve those heights without having any internal edema or hemorrhaging. I also learned that my big lumbering body makes me an extremely slow climber, an important realization for the road ahead.

Fast-forward 6 years. I found the expedition company, attained a slot on the team, amassed the experience necessary and arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal, to start the Journey to Everest.

There are 2 ways to climb the biggest mountain in the world, the South Face and the North Face. The north face of Everest is in Tibet, has road access all the way to base camp, and consists of a bit more political red tape and hassle to climb. The south face is inside Nepal, a week hike from any road or airport through the Nepalese countryside, and is a bit more of an “all-inclusive climbing Journey”. Whatever the case, I chose the expedition climbing from the south.

When I got to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, I learned very quickly that I was a small fish in a large pond of experienced climbers and athletes. When I told myself I was going to climb Everest 6 years ago, I had never met anyone that had done so. I was inspired by what I saw on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel, but soon I found myself shaking hands with people that had made multiple trips to the top. Heroes on TV instantly became friends and fellow climbers. It was truly surreal.

I left Kathmandu shortly after meeting my teammates and headed to the airport to board a small commuter plane and fly 30 minutes to what seems to be known as the most “dangerous airport in the world”, Tenzing–Hillary Airport. It has earned that title due its dismal safety record and the fact that the runway sits at an 11.7 degree angle running up a hillside in the city of Lukla, which stands at an elevation of 2845 m.

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From Lukla my team and I embarked on the trek to Everest Base Camp, and over the next 5 days we passed through some exceptionally beautiful countryside, winding up and down through hills that became less and less green, eventually giving way to dry tundra and subsequently white glacier. Along the way we stayed at tea/rest houses with rudimentary services, meant only to hold trekkers for a night’s rest and nothing more.

Arriving at base camp, we settled in for the next month. Base Camp was part of our expedition package, so we had a tent of our own to call home, 3 meals a day and even a gravity-fed shower. When not training on the glacier, days were occupied with the basics: rest, eat, shit and sleep. In tandem with those times we all experienced headaches, nausea, and a general malaise, all symptoms of being at 5360 meters above sea level. This was all part of the plan, because in order to have our bodies properly attuned to climb to the height of Everest, time needed to be spent at elevation.

The average human body is designed to live at sea level. Our blood is intended to pump oxygen that exists at this level to the muscles and organs in our body, providing enough fuel to power us through the day.

At altitude the same volume of air has less oxygen in it, meaning that there is less O2 in every breath to be directed throughout the body. Less fuel means less energy. It also means that parts of your body are perpetually starved of air. For some people this can have devastating effects, but for most climbers, it simply means you’re tired, lazy, and have a perpetual headache. This typically increases as you ascend, elevating the risk as you climb further.

The good news is that your body slowly catches on to the new environment, and produces more red cells in the blood to try to carry more of what little O2 exists in the air. This takes time, which is why we sit and wait at basecamp for so long before moving up the mountain.


你绝对想不到珠穆朗玛峰山脚下有多热。绝大多数人想到这座世界最高峰的时候,脑海里浮现的都是“寒冷”“危险”“风大”这类字眼。与人们普遍相信的情况完全相反,今年,高温是阻碍我登顶的主要原因之一,我只到达了距离顶峰1000米的四号营地。

为了登上顶峰,我做了将近6年的准备,这是我实现宏伟目标途中的重要里程碑。这个想法始于2010年,当时,作为一项思维训练,我坐在桌前列出了100个人生项目清单上的条目。这些项目后来变成了一个长达5年的环游世界计划——“加油世界之旅”,其中包含了我对旅行、电影制片和冒险生活的热爱。旅行结束时,我将完成人生项目清单上的所有项目,无论它们看起来多么困难或不切实际。

清单上的第一项是——攀登珠穆朗玛峰。

关于如何实现这个目标,我毫无头绪。事实上,在我的人生中,我从没爬过山。我只知道登上珠穆朗玛峰是一个标志,象征着所有我认为不可能完成的事。在我看来,普通人不会去爬珠穆朗玛峰。他们只在《攀登无极限》这种节目中看明星这样做。现实生活有它的规则,要控制风险,排除掉像攀登世界最高峰之类的事情的可能性。

但是,一旦说服了自己,我就开始朝着顶峰行进。

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攀登珠穆朗玛峰需要一些前提条件——资金和经验。我没有足够的资金,也毫无经验可言。攀登珠穆朗玛峰耗资巨大,把装备、机票、许可证和探险公司的费用全加起来,大概需要80000美元。当你想到80000美元能买到哪些东西时,出现在脑海里的可能是豪华轿车、度不完的假,甚至是一套房子。但我心中有一个使命。因此,在接下来的几年里,我没想过要给自己买这些东西,而是把挣到的钱都存进了专门的“珠穆朗玛峰基金”。我并不富有,但是6年来,我把几乎所有的积蓄都投入其中。这笔钱最终派上了用场。

另一方面是积累登山经验。攀登珠穆朗玛峰需要你了解在高海拔处的身体反应。你得知道缺氧反应,并逐渐增强耐力。所以,在过去5年里,我不断挑战更高的山脉。第一站是丽江的哈巴雪山(5800米),接下来是青海的玉珠峰(6178米),最后登上了新疆的慕士塔格峰(7509米)。在高达7500米的山峰上醒来,我才真正意识到自己已经可以在没有任何内部水肿或出血的情况下到达如此高度,也由此收获了自信。同时我还发现,笨重的身体拖慢了我的登山速度,认识到这一点对于未来的登山之路也极为重要。

一晃6年过去了。我找到了探险公司,加入了一个团队,积累了所需经验,到达了尼泊尔首都加德满都,自此开始了珠穆朗玛峰之旅。

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攀登世界最高峰有两种方式,从南面出发或从北面出发。珠穆朗玛峰的北面在西藏,有道路可以直通大本营,但需要得到政府批准,攀登难度也会更大一点。南面在尼泊尔境内,从任何一条公路或机场出发,需要一周的时间徒步穿过尼泊尔乡村,更像是一场“包罗万象的登山旅行”。无论如何,我选择了从南面开始这场攀登之旅。

到达加德满都后,我很快意识到,在一群经验丰富的登山者和运动员中,我只是个菜鸟。6年前,当我告诉自己要攀登珠穆朗玛峰时,我从没遇见过任何一个已经实现这个目标的人。我是被我在国家地理频道和探索频道上看到的内容所激励。但很快,我发现我在和已经多次登上顶峰的人握手。电视节目中的英雄突然成了我的朋友和登山伙伴,这真让人不敢相信。

在见了我的队友后不久,我就离开了加德满都,前往机场,上了一架小型短程客机,飞行30分钟到达有“世界上最危险的机场”之称的丹增希拉里机场。机场位于尼泊尔东北角的珠穆朗玛峰山上的卢卡拉镇,海拔为2845米,得名于其惨淡的安全记录和11.7度的跑道坡度。

我和我的队友从卢卡拉开始跋涉至珠峰营地,在接下来的5天里,我们经过了一些极其美丽的村庄,在绵延起伏的山丘间穿行,看着植被越来越少,然后被干苔原取代,最后成了白色的冰川。一路上,我们在沿途的茶馆或客栈留宿,这些地方提供基本服务,即我们只能在此休息一晚,仅此而已。

到达大本营以后,我们在此停留了一个月的时间。营地是探险公司提供的服务内容之一,所以我们每个人都有一个可以称之为家的帐篷,一天可享三餐,甚至有一次直冲式淋浴。只要不在冰川上练习攀爬,我们就呆在营地里处理日常事务,休息、吃饭、上厕所、睡觉。同时,我们都得经历身处海拔5360米之处的高原反应,包括头疼、恶心和全身不适。但是这些都在计划之内。为了把我们的身体调整到能够攀登至顶峰的最佳状态,我们需要在高海拔处待上一段时间。

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一般人的身体只能适应平原生活。我们的血液循环系统适合在这个海拔上工作,把氧气输送到各处肌肉和器官,让身体有足够的动力度过一天。

在高原上,相同空气量所含氧气减少,每次呼吸能够供应给身体的氧气也相应变少。氧气越少,能量也越少,这也意味着你身体的某些部位正处于缺氧状态。对于某些人来说,这是灾难性的,但是对于绝大多数的登山者而言,这仅仅意味着你很疲倦、有气无力,并且一直头痛。海拔越高,反应会更剧烈,风险也将更大。

但令人欣慰的是,你的身体会逐渐适应新环境,血液中的红细胞数量也在增加,以便运输更多的氧气。但这个过程需要时间,所以开始登山前,我们才在大本营待了这么久。


For the rest of Matt’s epic adventure up the world’s tallest mountain, stay tuned for Part II in our August issue. If you’re interested in following Matt’s journey from his camera lens, you can check out his day-by-day vlog of the entire journey from beginning to end at www.jayoe.com, chapters 1-55 of the JY_VLOG.

关于Matt攀登世界最高峰的冒险经历的下篇,敬请期待我们的八月刊。如果你有兴趣通过Matt的摄像镜头了解他的整场旅行,也可以访问他的日常视频博客www.jayoe.com,查看JY_VLOG的1-55回。


Written & Photos by (作者, 图片来源): Matt Galat

Chinese translation credits to: NINGBO FOCUS

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