Climbing the world’s tallest mountain peaks can be hazardous for several reasons: a person could be blown off the mountain by gale-force winds, get frozen, or die due to insufficient oxygen in the low-atmospheric-pressure “death zone”—and this is before even considering the danger from disease, avalanches, other humans, and high-altitude cryptids such as the yeti.
In order to mitigate these issues, while still providing the same sense of mountaineering accomplishment, we propose the creation of 1:10 scale model “Mini Everest” Himalayan mountain range (Figure 1). This could be used as both a tourist attraction and a mountain climbing “practice” zone for climbers to get familiar with the climbing route.
Despite the drastic reduction in scale, this 1:10 scale mountain is still a fairly sizable project! Fortunately, it is well within modern engineering capabilities to take an existing hill with at least 1200 feet of “prominence” (rise) above the surrounding terrain and carve an exact replica of Mt. Everest into it.
Since we’d be using an existing hill, there would be no need to even haul in material: nearly all of the construction would consist of removing material (except perhaps the addition of a durable surface to reduce erosion).
Let’s examine the mountaineering experience: Figure 2 shows an example of what a 1:1 scale real ascent of a Himalayan peak might look like.
When comparing Figure 2 to the scaled-down version in Figure 3, it is clear that everything has become much easier! The ladders and climbing ropes can be totally ignored, there is no danger of being crushed by falling ice, and the atmospheric pressure remains compatible with human physiology.
For the full effect, Mini Everest would also include a replica base camp (with tiny tents), an “ice” field made out of glass beads, miniature doll-sized ladders, and more.
There’s no need to restrict this system to Everest: other famous (yet inconvenient) mountains, such as K2 or Olympus Mons on Mars, could be recreated in a casual-hike-compatible format.
PROS: Thanks to this new system, a climber’s main dangers have been reduced from “death / dismemberment” to “small chance of sprained ankle.”
CONS: Climbers might not get the same sense of achievement from this 1:10 scale mountain. But we can solve this by just having them climb it ten times!