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Mt Everest Funicular

Save lives and boost Nepalese economy
  (+9, -5)
(+9, -5)
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Every spring it's the same story on Mt Everest. Hordes of amateur alpinists pay a small fortune to be almost literally carried up the world's tallest mountain on the shoulders of Sherpas. Every spring we hear the same accusations of congestion near the peak, pollution, greed and and tragic loss of human life.

I think it's now time to develop Mt Everest and provide a safer and faster access to the summit for prestige seeking pseudo-adventurers.

I suggest building a tunnel funicular from base camp to the top of Mt Everest. A luxury hotel with proper waste and sewage disposal at the current base camp location and a passenger railway line connecting base camp to the nearest air strip would complement the project.

It shouldn't be too much of an engineering challenge. Similar tunnel funiculars have been build in ski resorts all over the world (eg. in Val d'Isere, France). They are probably not as long, but I'm sure a comparable structure exists in a mineshaft somewhere in the world.

On the business side, who wouldn't want to pay, say $5000 to be able to say they've been on Mt Everest? At the moment it costs $50000+ to join a commercial expedition and slots fill up fast. You could probably expect tens of thousands of tourists to flock to Khumbu region for the experience. The project would pay for itself in a few years.

And for those die-hard climbers who insist that a funicular "ruins the magic" of Mt Everest (as if it hasn't been ruined years ago) and climb to the top the hard way, the funicular company could offer one-way emergency rescue tickets from summit to basecamp at a premium of $50000 (pre-paid as a deposit). It's not even such a novel idea. The ferry accross the English channel is 5 times more expensive one-way than return.

kinemojo, Sep 06 2005

Picture of tunnel funicular http://grizzli.beat.../urbain/isere02.jpg
An example showing what the technology could look like [kinemojo, Sep 06 2005]

Moelltal Glacier Express http://www.dywidag-...ng&content=moelltal
Some data on the world's longest underground cable railway [kinemojo, Sep 07 2005]

Goon show repeats still broadcast http://www.thegoonshow.net/broadcasts.asp
Not *that* far back. [spidermother, Feb 22 2006]

Durie Hill Elevator http://www.historic...ail.asp?RID=164&sm=
This old elevator in bigger scale should do it? [Pellepeloton, Sep 14 2006]


       I'm from the U.S., so I have no idea what a 'funicular' is. But if it's anything like a monkey driven rocket car, I'm in...
sleeka, Sep 06 2005

       I looked it up in the Wikipedia where it's also referred to as "inclined railway", "inclined plane" and "tram" - hope that's more helpful :)
kinemojo, Sep 06 2005

       "cog railway"
Shz, Sep 06 2005

       It's not much like a monkey driven rocket car, but it's just as cool. Well, almost.
wagster, Sep 06 2005

       You can't go up Everest quickly. The pressure drop and sudden oxygen loss would kill you. That's why they spend awhile acclimating at camps, so that the body can readjust the number of red blood cells.   

       Anyone who's been up it would probably tell you that the magic is not yet gone.
RayfordSteele, Sep 07 2005

       [RayfordSteele]: Interesting point, but I still don't fully understand. Could you elaborate?   

       Do you mean the pressure drop would kill you in a similar way that divers are killed by the bends? Or are you saying that you would simply die of suffocation because the air is not dense enough to supply sufficient oxygen to your blood?   

       If only the latter is true, surely turning your oxygen mask to full throttle will do?   

       If the former is true, then this is indeed a bigger challenge than I originally thought. The train and summit station would need to be pressurized.
kinemojo, Sep 07 2005

       Pressurize only the most funicular bits. You would step out at the top into the low pressure and low oxygen environment, and be overwhelmed with the majesty of Everest! Take it in for only a short time, and then funicule your way back down in pressurized monkey rocketed safety.
bungston, Sep 07 2005

       //You could probably expect tens of thousands of tourists to flock to Khumbu region for the experience.//   

       This would happen for as long as it took people to realise that "climbing" Everest is nothing to brag about when there is no effort at all involved. The people who took this easy option would be regarded as lazy rich people who couldn't be bothered to climb it manually.   

       The experience of being on the summit of the highest mountain on Earth is only half the reason that people climb it. The true climbers attempt it for the challenge of succeeding where hundreds have failed, the adrenaline and the knowledge that you are climbing one of the last truly uninhabited places known to man.
Mr Phase, Sep 07 2005

       Mr. Phase: Comparing the number of people who climb the Eiffel Tower with the number of people who take the elevator, I think you are woefully out of synch with the marketplace.
DrCurry, Sep 07 2005

       [shz] A cog railway is something different - a funicular implies a cable-drawn railway.
coprocephalous, Sep 07 2005

       Eurocopter managed a (disputed) hover landing at the summit; if it could be done reliably then it would take less infrastructure than a rack railway.
david_scothern, Sep 07 2005

       [Mr Phase]: There are dozens of tall mountains more challenging, more remote and even more enjoyable to climb than Everest, where you'll find most of the "true climbers" you're talking about. So how come Everest gets all the attention? It's because of its name. Everest is for tourists and amateurs. Unless you do a gimmick like climbing it barefoot without oxygen tanks or being the-youngest gay-disabled-black-woman to-reach-summit nobody is going to pay any attention to you anymore.   

       All I'm saying is, let a transport take care of the masses safely and efficiently and leave the rock face to the pros only. You could create a smaller, more manageable challenge by building the station a 3 hour hike from the summit. Sure, the hard nosed types you see on today's commercial expeditions would probably be put off and look for a challenge elsewhere. But the great majority of us are just scared, lazy human beings. Ordinary tourists don't want anything to brag about. They just want to tick Mt Everest off their list of things to do before they die .
kinemojo, Sep 07 2005

       [david_scothern] :   

       Wow, that's interesting. I didn't know mighty Everest had been tamed already :-)   

       But stunts aside:   

       If helicopters were a more cost-effective means of mass transport than cable cars or trains they would use them in ski resorts. (ok, there is heliskiing but that's orders of magnitude more expensive than normal skiing).   

       Another point: I doubt you could land any helicopter at -50 C and 200 km/h winds (prevailing conditions up there) even on sea level, let alone at an altitude of almost 9000 m.
kinemojo, Sep 07 2005

       Add a depressurization chamber to the top. And a seperate one for the rocket monkeys.
Worldgineer, Sep 07 2005

       I say we borrow daseva's H-Bomb and level the top of Everest to give us some place to start building.
DrCurry, Sep 07 2005

       We could build a climbing wall there.
wagster, Sep 07 2005

       //a funicular implies a cable-drawn railway//   

       Thanks, [copro]. Now instead of wondering how a train would run at that altitude, I’m thinking that’s a lot of cable, and a lot of weight, and verrry steep. Urm, are we sure this isn’t an elevator?
Shz, Sep 07 2005

       Funiculars basically are elevators, but with some slope. Often there are two of them, attached by a cable and a pulley - one goes up while the other's going down.   

       With this sort of distance I'd use some sort of linear motor and connect them electrically.
Worldgineer, Sep 07 2005

       [Shz] and [Worldgineer]: I'd like to add a few words. The longest underground passenger funicular built to date (see link) does a vertical drop of 1000 m at an average incline of 20%. There's an above-ground funicular in Switzerland which is even longer, at 1600 m I think.   

       The vertical drop from base camp to Everest's peak is about 3300 m. If you did the ascent in two stages I'm sure it's technically feasible to use cables.
kinemojo, Sep 07 2005

       The bends would get to you.   

       From the IMAX movie I've seen recently, climbing Everest is no walk in the park. Hurricane force winds at frigid temps, constant threats of avalanches, icefalls, ice crevases which require ladders to cross...
RayfordSteele, Sep 08 2005

       You're right. They should put an IMAX on top as well.
Worldgineer, Sep 08 2005

       How about a tunnel for getting people down in a hurry? Sort of like a luge course, only closed in. Or one of those tunnel water slides, only it would be ice. If someone is dying high up, you shove 'em in, slam the door, ring the little alarm bell and they zip down to the waiting doctors at Base Camp.
Phosphorus, Feb 22 2006

       Already sort-of halfbaked:   

       SEAGOON: You sound like Milligan through a megaphone, there!
GHOSLY VOICE: No ad-libbing please. Listen oh midget, I come to gratify yourn desire. If you seek new horizons, climb Mount Everest there.
SEAGOON: Oh spirit there, it has already been clumbed.
GHOSTLY VOICE: I know, It's not been clumbed from the inside.
SEAGOON: From the inside, from the inside! Oh spirit, you are right!
GHOSTLY VOICE: I must go now, I see my last tram coming. Farewell.
SEAGOON: Wait, wait!
SEAGOON: Wait. (Raspberry) Curses, the spirit has gone. It must have been only 70% proof. What an idea! Climb Mount Everest from the inside? It's never been done before. Cronk!

       [edit] Neddy Seagoon is part inventor of the steam-driven explodable hairless toupee (The affair of the lone banana).
spidermother, Feb 22 2006

       //travelling from 25m underwater to the surface, which takes about 5mins // PADI guidelines would have you on the surface in under 90 seconds from this depth.
The bends were recognised as a hazard (apart from high velocity shrapnel) for bomber crews in WWII, but this may have been due to greater altitudes and more strenuous exercise than sitting in a train.
coprocephalous, Feb 22 2006

       //travelling from 25m underwater to the surface// Actually more like 6m, as it's the absolute rather than relative pressure difference that determines how much extra nitrogen can be dissolved.
spidermother, Feb 22 2006

       Tunnel and elevator would be the idea? Elevator needs to be pressurised and lead to a place where you can see the top of Mt. Everest. Of couse it can not be on the top as the climbers going the hard way need to have some joy left to be higher than sightsee'ers.   

       In a small scale this has been done in Wanganui, New Zealand. Durie Hill Elevator, across from the City Bridge. Accessed by the Durie Hill pedestrian tunnel. It is the only earthbound elevator in New Zealand and one of only two in the world.
Pellepeloton, Sep 14 2006


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