No Helicopters on Top of Mount Everest

I have never climbed a mountain, but I have climbed a stage in 5 inch heels.

Both mountain climbing and bodybuilding take extreme discipline, perseverance, and fortitude.

Alison Levine is the first woman to lead an all women’s expedition on Everest. Hearing her story, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between climbing and bodybuilding.

1.  Base camp is just the beginning and its intense.

Few people venture to base camp, but this is just your starting point.

Many people don’t even get to the base level of fitness that a competitor is at before they start dieting and intensely training for a show.

Base Camp

Its already tough and the real climb hasn't started yet.

2.  A lot of time is spent going up and down.

Climbing Everest is not a simple up the mountain and back down again adventure. Days and weeks are spent going up and down portions of the mountains so that your body acclimatizes to the lack of oxygen. Imagine climbing up the side of the most dangerous mountain for a whole day, only to turn around and go back to base camp.


Simply climbing to the top of Everest without taking care of and listening to your body will kill you.

By going backwards, but you are actually making progress.

Simply doing whatever it takes to get to the stage, no matter the health risks, may kill you.

3.  Team is critical.

The people with you on the journey can make or break you. Teammates are indispensable and either ensure success or failure. You have to trust them explicibly; you are putting your health and life in their hands on the expedition.

Obviously when you train for a competition you aren’t crossing actual ice bridges and crevasses, but emotional and personal ones are crossed every single day as you train. Your team needs to be there for you when you falter and don’t know where to step next.

Your coach needs to know exactly where you are going and how to get there. When he tells you its time to head back to base camp, you need to be able to trust its the right thing to do. Having an experienced coach will be a defining factor for success.

4.  There isn’t much at the summit.

Even air is scarce on the top of Everest. The only life on the summit is you and you’re only going to be there for a short while.

Mount Everest


Its an amazing place for a few moments, but life cannot be lived there.

The journey to your competition and what you do with the experience after is what changes you. Standing on a stage in a bedazzled bikini and 5 inch clear heels doesn’t make you a different person, but what you do with the experience does.

5.  What goes up must come down.

There isn’t even enough air on top of Everest for a helicopter to come whisk you away to the Hilton. You have to travel back down slowly, spending time at base camp while your body adjusts yet again.

After your competition you have to journey out of your diet and slowly reacclimatize to the ‘off season‘. Perhaps you wish a helicopter could fly in and take you off the mountain, but you have to take yourself back to base camp

It’s not much safer on the way back down the mountain. Food temptations, mental discipline, body image confusion, and post competition blues are imminent dangers.

Final advice from Alison:

  • Put one foot in front of the other.
  • Make the tough decisions.
  • Less planning and more executing.
  • Take action based on the current situation.
  • Remember it is not straightforward at all.
  • Storms are always temporary.

Even if you find yourself going backwards, you are making progress.

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  1. “By going backwards, but you are actually making progress.”

    Thank you for these perfect words today.

  2. I’ve always love your analogy of no-one actually living at the mountain top. It’s just a moment in time, an experience to relish. So beautifully true. Great post.

  3. The most anti-climatic feeling I have ever known is winning a bodybuilding competition. “I got here, I got here” I thought, “now what…?” The trip down….

    • bikiniorbust says

      Totally. And if you don’t have a plan for the trip down….it’s EPIC, and not in the good kind of way.

  4. I really love this! You know how to write so well. I especially love the mountain top analogy- it’s so very true.

  5. Alli Siemens says

    I absolutely LOVE this analogy — perfect.

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