It’s Thanksgiving, and your uncle Paul has just returned from his long-awaited expedition to accomplish the ultimate climbing goal, a summit of Mount Everest (29,032 ft).
Paul, who’s $60,000 expedition fee amounted to a hefty 20% of his annual salary, kept the entire extended family in awe with his stories of exotic international adventure. “There’s the tea houses, and… well, you know, there’s those prayer flags and the Buddhism and the people. It just all really feels like The Temple of Doom you know?” he told the family over the dinner table. “It’s another world over there.”
Paul tackled the world’s highest summit with an elite team of climbers, including the creator of some iPhone app, the president of an Ivy League School, the son of your state senator, and the former owner of an NFL team.
Talk turned to your own climbing at one point during the evening, and you mentioned that you recently managed to send 5.11 on gear. Paul, however, appeared unimpressed. “Look bud, back when I was rock climbing in the 80s, we didn’t really have ropes or that safety stuff,” he said. “None of that really even existed back then, I don’t think. Just boots and grit, you know? We were just climbing all over the rocks and everything, scrambling everywhere, and damned if we were gonna fall,” he added, laughing. “It was different in those days.”
Paul also asserted that “grades” and “route names” did not exist during his climbing career in the 1980s, so it has been difficult for you (or Climbing) to find a record of his sends. He later proceeded to refer to Yosemite as “Yo-suh-mite.”
Paul has already made 36 separate Facebook posts about the trip, and will naturally continue to post about it for the next 10 years. Comments from his Facebook friends (mostly 50-something men from your hometown) included the admonition “Don’t fall!” and the rather vague declaration “You a wild man!”
The Everest expedition has also given Paul photos to place on his newly-created Tinder profile, which you helped him set up. The 58-year-old hopes to use the app to “find real love” as he extricates himself from his third marriage, but has also been adamant about setting his desired partner age range from 23 to 30, “and not a year higher!”
His cover photo features him standing in Kathmandu Durbar Square, dressed for his expedition, with 200 feet of static line in a mountaineer’s coil over his shoulder. Other highlights include photos of Paul atop Mt. Whitney, Mt. Hood, and Angels Landing.
Your grandmother, who recently watched the film “Everest,” is amazed he made it back from Everest alive, and admonished him for his recklessness.
“I just believe you aren’t living if you aren’t pushing the edge a little bit,” said Paul, shrugging, as his 26-year-old Tinder date Katie clung to his arm and looked adoringly at his rough, masculine visage. “He’s just like that,” she offered, having spent 17 hours in Paul’s presence thus far.
Later that night, as you all sat around watching TV, Paul looked back on his favorite memories from the expedition. “At the end of the trip, I tipped this porter a couple hundred bucks, and you could just see his face light up, you know?” he said. “Now that’s true happiness right there. That’s pure joy, what I saw on that man’s face at that moment. Honest appreciation for the simple things in life,” he added, leaning back in your grandma’s Lay-Z-Boy recliner, a Dr. Pepper in one hand.
“I feel like I really learned something over there.”