Crisis meeting in the Oval Office, one week before the presidential election. “What the f…! I’m still behind in the polls,” shouts Scrooge Tramp and clenches his fist firmly on the desk. “Think of something!” The advisors look trodden on their shoes, no one dares to look Tramp in the bright red face. “We could,” one of them finally begins cautiously. “What?” bleats Tramp. “We could perhaps turn the tide with a spectacular, admirable sporting achievement by the President,” whispers the advisor. “And what did you have in mind? Permanently golfing?”, yells Tramp.
“I was thinking of climbing Mount Everest,” says the advisor. “The news of the first ascent in 1953 arrived in London just in time for Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. That was a mega PR coup back then. Now, when it is announced on election day that the President of the USA has reached the roof of the world, the mood could still tip in your favor.” Tramp thinks for a moment. “Sounds good,” he finally says. “Then I can tweet up there: Tramp on top – in every respect. H.O.P.A.T – the Highest President of All Time.” Tramp shoos his team out of the office. “Why are you still standing around here? Go, go, organize it! And do it in such a way that it works and that I’m not eaten by the yeti.”
“White House” at base camp
No sooner have they left the Oval Office than the other advisors start pouncing on their colleague: “Are you crazy? Climbing Everest in a week? A 74-year-old who otherwise only just climbs a sand hill on the golf course? What were you thinking?” The advisor defends himself: “You had no idea. And after all, what do we have to lose? Nothing!”
In the following days the telephone wires between the USA and Nepal run hot. Sherpas, who were actually supposed to work on the 6,814-meter-high Ama Dablam for an expedition, are ordered to Everest and climb through the Khumbu Icefall at high speed. They deposit lots of oxygen bottles: in the base camp, in Camp 2 at 6400 meters and finally at the South Col at almost 8,000 meters. Through the Lhotse flank they build a rope winch. In the base camp, a “White House” made of thick-walled tents, with an oxygen-saturated presidential suite, heated to 20 degrees Celsius, with a proper bed, shower, toilet, sauna and communication center, is built in no time at all.
In, up, down, out!
Tramp tells his advisors in no uncertain terms that he wouldn’t dream of spending his time: “In, up, down, out – and then let’s go to the election victory party!” During his last election campaign appearances in the USA he has difficulties to keep the planned last-minute coup to himself. “Tramp is top. You’ll soon see how top,” he shouts out to his fans, with a twinkle in his eye.
Four days before the election, Tramp boards Air Force One. During the flight to Kathmandu, he is given a crash course how to use the breathing mask. “What the f …! Never ever will I wear such an ugly thing,” the president rumbles. It takes a while to make him understand that he – not acclimatized as he is – would die on Everest without bottled oxygen. “What the f …! Really? All right, if it is absolutely necessary. But nobody is allowed to see me like this,” orders Tramp. “When I stand on the summit of Everest, my face and hair must be in the picture. And I have to come across in top shape, just like after a good round of golf. Got it?!”
Tramp’s sweet dream
After arrival in Kathmandu he is immediately flown by helicopter to Everest Base Camp. There Tramp only has to put on the breathing mask for the 50 meters to the White (tent) House. For dinner the president is served “Tramp Steaks” with fries. “Hej Millenia”, he tells his wife via WhatsApp, “everything is fine, it’s almost like home here. Only the women are not so beautiful.” Tramp winks with his left eye: “Joke, there are only boys here!”
After a nightcap the president falls into a deep sleep. Tramp is dreaming: He is standing on the summit of Everest and stretches his thumb up – and then his middle finger when he spots his opponent in the presidential election in the Western Cwm below.
In the morning, after an extensive breakfast – cornflakes and two burgers – Tramp squeezes into the warm down suite. “What the f…!”, the president moans. A little later he is flown by helicopter to Camp 2.
15 liters of bottled oxygen per minute flow into his breathing mask. An “Oxygen Sirdar” monitors that there are always sufficient reserve bottles in Tramps vicinity and that the used cylinders are exchanged for full ones in time. From Camp 2, Tramp is pulled on a sledge to the foot of the Lhotse flank and then with the winch up to the South Col. There a “White House” in high camp tent format is waiting for him, preheated. “What the f… !”, roars Tramp into his breathing mask.
In the frame rucksack
Time is pressing. After a short drinking break, a group of 50 Sherpas makes its way to the summit. Tramp, 1.90 meters tall and weighing about 100 kilograms, is carried up the mountain in a specially made frame rucksack for adults – two Sherpas in front, one in the back. The Sherpas are exchanged every ten meters. To prevent Tramp from fidgeting, he has been injected with a sedative. He hangs like a wet sack in the frame rucksack and dawns towards the summit. “What the f …! I am the president,” he mumbles into his mask.
A nasty surprise
Hours later the strange roped party approaches the summit of Mount Everest. But what is that? Cameras are set up at the highest point at 8,850 meters – a live broadcast from Chinese television! President Xo Pengpeng – an advisor had recommended him to climb Everest via the Tibetan north side of the mountain to polish up his image – poses on the summit. The cameras pan onto the group around Tramp.
After the US president has peeled himself from his frame rucksack, he furiously tears the mask off his head. “What the f … are you doing here? This is my Everest,” he yells at Xo and tries to attack him. But before he can knock the Chinese head of state to the ground with one punch, Tramp’s legs sag away. The extremely thin air takes its toll. The Sherpas quickly put the breathing mask back on Tramp. Xo only shakes his head.
Back in Washington
One week after the election. Tramp gathers his staff of advisors in the Oval Office. He is no longer president. The grotesque pictures on Chinese state television, broadcasted live from the summit of Mount Everest and spread around the world, have robbed him of the last theoretical chance to turn the tide. Tramp has suffered a crushing election defeat. And that although he made it back to the USA in time: as a passenger on a tandem paraglider flight to Camp 2, by helicopter to Kathmandu and from there on board of Air Force One to Washington.
Tramp says goodbye to each member of his team with a handshake. When he arrives at the advisor who had the idea of climbing Everest, he gets loud once again. “What the f …! F…… Everest!”, yells Scrooge Tramp. “You’re fired!”