29,000 Feet Minus 2 = Dumb

Prepare yourself for the inspirational true story of Mark Inglis, a mountain climber who had both his legs amputated back in 1982 after an accident on Mt. Cook in New Zealand.

Inglis, who at the time was a search and rescue worker, spent two weeks in an ice cave on Mt. Cook waiting for his coworkers to locate him. As it turned out, sitting around in a snowed-over cave is one of the worst possible ways to get a rescue party’s attention, second only to actually dying in a snowed-over cave.

But Inglis didn’t die. He merely had his legs amputated at the knees. But never one to cry uncle in the face of tragedy—or common sense—Inglis is currently attempting to scale Mt. Everest, which is by far the world’s tallest, snow-capped place to end your life. That said, if Inglis accomplishes his goal and reaches Everest’s towering zenith, he’ll be the first double-amputee in history to piss me off from 29,000 feet.

Not that climbing Mt. Everest isn’t impressive, because it is. Or at least it would be if your name was Tom Jenkins. Tom’s a friend of mine and a hell of a nice guy. He also happens to be the fattest person I’ve ever known. He weighs in at about 400 pounds, and I’m assuming the only thing he’s ever climbed was his bathroom scale. I make this assumption because, the last time I was at his house, there was a broken scale in the trash.

Now, if you were to drop Tom off at Base Camp with nothing but a few double cheeseburgers and an ice pick, and he were to somehow make it to the top of Everest alive, I’d be so impressed I’d spend the rest of my life wondering how the hell he got double cheeseburgers in Nepal.

But seriously, you never hear heartwarming stories about fat people climbing mountains or swimming the Potomac. When fatties make the news, it’s generally for choking on a hot dog while playing Halo 2. So, yeah, obese people rarely accomplish great feats of athleticism, which is why it would be so amazing if Tom were to, I don’t know, win the Tour de France.

I mean, could you imagine that? Tom crossing the finish line, the bike frame contracting up and down like an accordion, his ass cheeks hanging over the bike seat as if it was a towel rack? Let’s be honest ladies and gentlemen, not only would that blow your mind, it would totally ruin that bike seat. And in any case, you’d never forget Tom’s name.

But some rich douche bag climbing Mt. Everest? Some rich douche bag who’s had the leisure to spend his entire life training under the supervision of the world’s most respected fitness gurus? Some rich douche bag who shows up at Base Camp with a posse of doctors, meteorologists, sponsors, PR reps, chefs, and a couple dozen Sherpas to pick up all the trash he leaves behind? Some rich, arrogant douche bag who’s climbing up that mountain with galvanized tanks of oxygen, shots of adrenaline, a portable EKG, communication devices, satellite feeds and a Go-Go-Gadget Copter on standby just in case things get dicey?

No, you won’t remember Inglis’ name, or the names of any of the other idiots out there conquering nature with nothing but wits, guts and the GDP of a small nation to guide them. Of course, my all time favorite rich douche bag is the guy who, for about 20 years, endeavored to circumnavigate the globe in a hot air balloon. Two decades of crashes later, and I’m proud to announce that that dude—whose name will go un-Googled—finally made history in becoming the 10 billionth person to die unknown.

That’s right. Because despite the guy’s unrelenting and costly commitment to conquering the skies a full century after we conquered the skies, no one knows or cares who he is. And for such everlasting anonymity, he spent millions of dollars. Millions.

No shit, you give me a few million bucks and I’ll circumnavigate the globe on a fucking Triscuit.

As for climbing Mt. Everest? Please. We’re 50 years removed from being amazed. Hell, in the mid-90s, IMAX made a movie about a couple of climbers’ trek up Everest. Not only did the climbers make it to the top of the mountain, so did the cameraman. That’s right, the cameraman made it up, and he was lugging around one of those IMAX cameras, which are roughly the size of my friend Tom.

Still, I suppose there’s something to be said for scaling Everest on a couple stumps, and I imagine more than a few people will be monitoring his progress. His wife, in particular, will likely be cheering him on from Base Camp—that is, when she’s not too busy sipping Chianti and doing interviews with Larry King about her husband, his indomitable spirit, and which rescue worker she’ll date when her husband goes Otter Pop.

As for me, I’ll be watching to see if his prosthetic legs don’t ice up about 50 feet from the summit, because if there is anything Everest needs, it’s one more human cadaver sprinkled about the north trail.

The most recent estimates, by the way, suggest that over 200 corpses are littered about Everest’s peak. Many of their bodies can be seen, from Base Camp, by the naked eye.

No kidding, at the right of time of day, all those rich dudes bundled in their Day-Glo Goretex winter-wear glisten in the sunlight like ornaments on the world’s largest X-Mas tree.

That said, I do wish Mark Inglis the best and hope that nothing bad happens to him on his quest to accomplish the impossibly stupid—because the only thing left to amputate are his arms, and what will he do then?

Chew his way up Kilimanjaro?

I don’t know what he’d do, and I don’t want to find out. That’s why I sincerely wish Inglis the best. Make it up that mountain Inglis, enjoy the view, and then crawl your ass back down into the obscurity of real life.

And Inglis, if in the future you decide you need to further impress us all with your ability to accomplish the impossible, how about growing your fucking legs back?

Do that, and I’ll not only follow you up Everest, I’ll carry your ass back down.

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