The Mount Everest Syndrome

The top of Mt EverestAre you climbing Mt. Everest? If you are, you will need the finest equipment available. If you are climbing a small hill near your home, you may not need that quality of equipment.

This basic principle should guide how you spend your money. We all love perfection. Many of us like to have the finest stuff we can afford. But ask yourself, do I really need that good a thing? Do I need my whatever to last 500 years when I’ll only live to 70 or 80?

Save your money. Understand that if you have kids, they may not want to inherit that thing after you die. It probably will be obsolete then, even if it will last another 430 years. And if it’s not obsolete, it will probably be hopelessly out of style, at least for three or four fashion cycles.


1. Some people have this syndrome more than others. It’s partially a function of personality type. I have the personality type that is prone to this. If you know someone who has this tendency, help them fight it. One symptom might be watching them buy a 4WD vehicle that can scale Mt. Everest, when they live in a flat part of Kansas.

2. I wrote about this before, in other terms: What once held value on this blog and What once held value on my old blog.

3. There are other references to this syndrome, though the Wikipedia definition reflects a slightly different beast. I’d also guess that it’s a symptom of OCD.


5 Replies to “The Mount Everest Syndrome”

  1. I’ve borrowed professional power tools (Makita, DeWalt, Milwaukee), and can sometimes feel a difference in quality, but it’s not worth the extra $100-$300 to me. Most of my power tools are modestly priced handyman brands like Ryobi, Black & Decker, or Craftsman. A few are from Harbor Freight, but I’ve learned not to buy anything there that I expect to use all the time because the quality is usually poor. It’s cheaper to replace Ryobi tools after 10-15 years than to buy the professional brands… but it’s not cheaper to replace Harbor Freight tools after just one or two years than to spend an extra $30-$50 to get brand name tools at Home Depot.

    1. There is a definite value curve. As you say, and I agree, spending too little on almost anything results in junk that falls apart and spending too much is basically a waste of money.

    1. Tim – just a rendition of the summit being in focus and the rest of the climb being something the climbers want to forget. Which has nothing to do with the story, except that it’s Mt. Everest.

      Maybe I should have spent less time in Photoshop.

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