by Ryan Siacci, Esq.
Kathmandu, Nepal – May 2016
After the appalling incidents that rocked the climbing world in the tragic seasons of 2014 and 2015, the world’s tallest mountain has been conquered once again by men and women with superhuman abilities and astronomical wallets. May has been a month of spectacular firsts for Everest – the first vegan, the first cystic fibrosis sufferer and the first combat amputee have each reached the summit.
But even on the roof of the world, one “first” stands above them all – The First Man to summit Everest having never seen so much as a single episode of Game of Thrones.
Steve McClient is that man. He’s far from humble about his achievement, and why should he be?
“Everest has become a bit of a joke. Anyone can do it,” explains McClient. “Not watching GoT? Now that’s hard. Especially with all my friends telling me that I simply must see it.”
In our digital age, it’s hard to avoid the constant bombardment of pop culture. We’re attacked from all angles – via social media, television, and perhaps other things. Steve has managed to avoid them all, and that is true masterstroke in this day and age.
Some would say that McClient is making a mockery of Everest, or Chomolungma as it is known to the Sherpa people. To them, it is the “Goddess Mother of the World”, a sacred mountain that deserves respect. Many would argue that the ever-growing list of specious “firsts” denigrates the mountain, that the strange compulsion to become the first summiteer with an unusual, though trivial characteristic is no better than the asinine commentary on a YouTube video.
“Haters gonna hate,” replies McClient laconically.
Others make note of the fact that many of the early ascensionists, Sir Edward Hillary and Tensing Norway among them, had not seen Game of Thrones either.
“That’s really just a technicality,” explains McClient. “For the record to exist, it requires GoT to have been in existence. So this record has only been available since 2011.”
This form of dismissal is a phenomenon that other record holders know only too well. Thomas Champ was also subjected to what he and other Tumblr users call “calendarism” when he became the first ascensionist of the new millennium in 2000.
“I feel that others should respect my ascent,” Champ explains. “It occurred on a date which society has arbitrarily attached some significance to. Regardless of the fact that the mountain existed for millions of years previously, and will exist for millions of year afterward, my ascent is special and I demand that others see it as such.”
And that’s the real crux, isn’t it. We’re all unique in our own way, even if there are hundreds of others doing the exact same thing in the exact same place at the exact same time.
I, for one, applaud the efforts of Steve McClient and Tom Champ, and I look forward to creating a spurious record of my own someday.