Texas showdown: Guadalupe Peak vs. Mount Everest — which is better?

The highest peak in Texas? Or the highest peak in the world? Which is better? I’m going to tell you. Because even though the most strenuous thing I do in any given year is stand around at Willie’s Fourth of July Picnic for 12 hours and wish to hell I had actually lost the 40 pounds I promised I would last year, I have climbed Guadalupe Peak.

True, I have not climbed Everest, but — unless Google has done you a serious disservice by steering you here — neither have you. And I have read Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air” at least twice.

Let’s break it down:

Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas. Photo by Mike Leggett

Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas. Photo by Mike Leggett

Location

Guadalupe Peak: Culberson County, Texas, perhaps a bit uncomfortably close to New Mexico.

Everest: In the Himalayas, along the border of Nepal and Tibet.

Advantage: Guadalupe Peak.

In this photo provided by Japanese mountain guide Hiroyuki Kuraoka, 71-year-old Japanese mountain climber Katsusuke Yanagisawa, left, looks on atop the summit of Mount Everest after becoming the oldest person to scale it, on Tuesday, May 22, 2007. Yanagisawa, a retired junior high school teacher from central Japan, was 71 years, 2 months and 2 days old when he reached the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak on May 22, becoming the oldest Everest climber and beating the previous record set last year by another Japanese climber, Takao Arayama, who was aged 70 years, 7 months and 13 days. (AP Photo/Hiroyuki Kuraoka, HO) ORG XMIT: KAT101

The view from the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak of Mount Everest. AP Photo by Hiroyuki Kuraoka

Height

Guadalupe Peak: 8,751 feet, rising 3,000 feet above the surrounding Chihuahuan desert.

Everest: If you were to stack two Guadalupe Peaks on top of each other, you’d make … Mount Everest base camp — about 18,000 feet. The summit is another Guadalupe Peak-and-a-half (29,035 feet).

Advantage: Everest

The Guadalupe Range as seen from the east. The monolith El Capitan (left) and Guadalupe Peak (center) rise almost a mile above the desert floor in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Photo by Brad Buchholz

The Guadalupe Range as seen from the east. The monolith El Capitan (left) and Guadalupe Peak (center) rise almost a mile above the desert floor in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Photo by Brad Buchholz

Native population

Guadalupe Peak: Mescalero Apache. The Guadalupe Mountains were their last stronghold and they fought bitterly against white settlers and soldiers.

Everest: Sherpas. They learned to make a living hauling wealthy tourists and their gear up and down the mountain.

Advantage: Your call. I don’t want to make either group upset at me..

International trekkers pass through a glacier at the Mount Everest base camp, Nepal. AP Photo by Tashi Sherpa

International trekkers pass through a glacier at the Mount Everest base camp, Nepal. AP Photo by Tashi Sherpa

Summit experience

Guadalupe Peak: Gaze at surrounding desert. Drink cowboy-cold beer you’ve pirated inside your small backpack. Stand next to summit marker. Yay! You are the highest person in Texas — with the possible exception of Willie Nelson.

Everest: As the lack of oxygen drains your mental capacity to preschool levels, you ignore the numbing cold long enough to snap a few pictures. Then you try to get out of the death zone before a storm freezes you into part of the landscape, which it might do anyway.

Advantage: Guadalupe Peak.

Michigan climber Beth Byron and Dallas resident Stan Graff reached the summit of Guadalupe Peak just moments apart and shared the moment at the monument that's planted on top of the mountain. Photo by Mike Leggett

Michigan climber Beth Byron and Dallas resident Stan Graff reached the summit of Guadalupe Peak just moments apart and shared the moment at the monument that’s planted on top of the mountain. Photo by Mike Leggett

Nature-watching opportunities

Guadalupe Peak: Includes pine forests, cactus and flowers of all sorts, mountain short-horned lizards, mountain lions, mule deer, rock squirrels and rattlesnakes.

Everest: Dead climbers. Avalanches.

Advantage: Guadalupe Peak.

Mt. Everest is seen from the route to Kalapatthar in Nepal. AP Photo by Tashi Sherpa

Mt. Everest is seen from the route to Kalapatthar in Nepal. AP Photo by Tashi Sherpa

Travel and cost

Guadalupe Peak: If you leave El Paso about 7 a.m., drive 90 miles, make the climb up and down in less than 7 hours — by the time everyone else gets off work, you can be at L&J Cafe in El Paso, drinking beer on wobbly legs. Costs include a hearty breakfast, a tank of gas, $5 each in entrance fees, some trail-friendly snacks and a couple tallboys of beer.

Everest: Your two-month expedition starts with a flight to Nepal, another smaller flight, and a week-long trek to base camp. Whether you make the summit or not, you’re going to be paying at least an Audi A3 ($30,000), but you could be paying a Maserati Ghibli ($70,000).

Advantage: Guadalupe Peak.

Fitness requirements

Guadalupe Peak: You can fit Guadalupe Peak in between nights of beer and tacos — though you’d be best served taking it easy the first night.The more fit you are, the more fun you’ll have. But even if you are rotund, out of shape, stove-up and given to poor decisions, you can still make it to the top — or so I’ve heard.

Everest: You have to be an extraordinarily fit and experienced mountaineer — or insanely wealthy enough to not care that everyone around you resents the hell out of you paying the sherpas to drag you along with the gear.

Advantage: Guadalupe Peak.

We could go on, but it’s pretty clear that Guadalupe Peak is the clear winner here. Sure, nobody ever claimed to climb it “because it’s there.” But Texans climb it because it’s here. And that’s good enough for us.

That and you probably won’t lose your extremities to frostbite.


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