‘Everest, Inc.’ highlights the business of adventure toward the top of Everest

Apr 16, 2024, 2:00 PM

A promotional pre-release copy of Everest, Inc., provided by Gallery Books, sits next to a cup of c...

A promotional pre-release copy of Everest, Inc., provided by Gallery Books, sits next to a cup of coffee. (Mariah Maynes/KSL NewsRadio)

(Mariah Maynes/KSL NewsRadio)

MOUNT EVEREST — Will Cockrell’s new book “Everest, Inc.” highlights those involved in the guiding industry on Mount Everest. It also aims to alter the narrative surrounding the world’s highest peak. 

The book covers the last 30 years of Everest’s guiding industry. Cockrell said he became familiar with the topic throughout his career. 

“I’m a climber myself. Adventure and climbing [were] something I did cover as a journalist. [It was] one of those specialty areas that I was able to cover well because it’s something I did and I knew the players. And so I got to kind of watch from the sidelines the whole… messy controversy narrative of Everest,” said Cockrell.

Related: Everest’s 100 years of destiny and death on the roof the world

Additionally, he said that when he began working on the book, he didn’t think the world needed another book about Everest. However, he began thinking about all of the events he had covered during his career. 

“I started to realize that all together they added up to like this counter-narrative to what we believe about the mountain or what we think we know about the mountain,” said Cockrell. 

Everest’s 1970s tie to Utah 

The first chapter of the book tells the story of Dick Bass‘ efforts to climb each of the world’s seven tallest summits. Bass helped found Snowbird. The resort opened in 1971, per the Alf Engen Ski Museum. 

Bass was known for his outgoing and loud personality. 

The Dallas-born businessman met Marty Hoey on a winter afternoon in 1981. According to the book, Hoey was a senior ski patroller at the resort. 

She had worked as one of the only female guides on Washington’s Mount Rainier. She also guided on Denali in Alaska. Aged 29 and standing 5 foot, 6 inches, Hoey had earned a reputation as one of the country’s strongest mountain guides, according to “Everest, Inc.”

Bass asked Hoey to guide him to the top of Denali, America’s highest peak.

According to the book, she replied “Bass, your hot air won’t get you up that mountain.”

Just a few months later, Hoey and Bass arrived at Kahiltna Glacier. They were accompanied by Bass’ four children, a few of Hoey’s guiding colleagues, and Bob Bonar, the Snowbird Ski Patrol manager who had introduced Hoey and Bass. 

According to “Everest, Inc.,” Bass’ successful summit of Denali impressed Hoey. 

After the climb, Bass told Hoey about his goal to summit the world’s seven tallest peaks. Hoey supported the idea, even volunteering to come along, per the book. 

Hoey and Bass went on to attempt a summit of Everest. However, Hoey died during the attempt, per Climbing. If the tragedy hadn’t occurred, Climbing reported that Hoey could’ve become the first American woman to summit the world’s highest mountain. 

Bass finally reached the world’s highest peak in 1985. It was his third summit attempt. According to the book, he was the 174th person to successfully reach the top. 

The book goes far beyond the story of Dick Bass and Marty Hoey. It highlights the stories of Sherpa climbing guides, their high-paying clients and the writers and filmmakers who documented the trips. 

Writing Everest, Inc. to change the narrative

Cockrell said that public attitudes toward summiting Everest have been overall negative. 

“Ever since the early 2000s when people became really aware of the guiding industry, all of a sudden it was about the circus at Everest Base Camp and the sort of the terrible clients,” said Cockrell. 

The clients of guides on the world’s tallest mountain have been perceived as narcissistic, Cockrell said. 

He said that he set out to alter the narrative with his book. 

“Even having never been to base camp, I knew that wasn’t true. That was the exception and not the rule,” said Cockrell. “I think part of why I did this is because I wondered if some of the papers would just get bored of telling a new ‘Everest is a mess story.’ 

According to Cockrell, those stories are still common. 

After realizing a counter-narrative had never been told, he began to craft one.

He said he wrote the story in “a way that wasn’t activism … [avoiding] saying the guiding industry is terrible or the guiding industry is awesome.” 

“Everest, Inc.” became available for purchase on Tuesday.

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‘Everest, Inc.’ highlights the business of adventure toward the top of Everest