I am so glad that you have chosen me to be your guide

Hi! My name is Ima Frawde and I am so glad that you have chosen me to be your guide during your climb of Everest.

The fact that you have chosen me indicates that you are well on your way to mastering the most important skill in climbing the mountain: Trust Everest.

And why shouldn’t you trust Everest? The mountain is totally natural; climbing is totally natural; reduced oxygen concentration at higher altitude is totally natural; and blizzards are totally natural. There’s never a need to fear anything natural.

Other people might choose professional guides to lead them, risking the chance that their climb will be marred by unnatural interventions, but by choosing me, you have demonstrated your faith in lay Everest guides. Lay Everest guides are the only ones specifically trained in low risk mountain climbing. Wait, what? Everest is not a low risk mountain? Don’t be silly. A high mountain like Everest is just a variation of normal.

Professional guides like the Sherpas have been socialized to believe that mountain climbing must involve all sorts of unnatural interventions like parkas filled with synthetic insulation, supplemental oxygen and GPS devices to map your route to the summit. Lay Everest guides understand that a truly empowering climb involves wearing only all natural vests knitted from free trade hemp, breathing only natural air and trusting that you will find your way to the top without a map.

How do I know this? From my training as a lay Everest guide. Before I received by credential (the CPG, certified professional guide) I had to watch 20 groups of people climb a mountain and then I had to climb 20 mountains. Since all mountains are the same, and Everest is just a variation of normal, I climbed a bunch of hills near my house and as we all know, hills are just short mountains.

Plus, since receiving my CPG I’ve led a million, trillion mountain expeditions from my hut at The Farm without a single death. Remarkable, I know! What? Of course I’ll be publishing that data in a peer reviewed mountain guide, just as soon as I find the time.

One of the best things about the Everest climbs that I lead is that they save so much money. We don’t need any of those fancy climbing shoes with crampons attached, no ice picks, and no rope. Sure the Sherpas insist that you need those things, but that’s because they make money by selling them to you.

How long will the climb take? I don’t set arbitrary time limits like those Sherpas who rush through climbs to get to their golf games. I’ve sent expeditions up the mountain (complete with my book Spiritual Mountain-climbing) that still haven’t come back after 5 years. I’m not worried about them because I trust Everest.

You need to prepare yourselves to withstand pressure brought by ignorant but well meaning relatives and friends who will beg you to hire those Sherpas and buy all that unnecessary gear. They may taunt you that you will change your mind about supplemental oxygen once you get to higher altitutes. That’s precisely why we don’t bring any supplemental oxygen so you won’t be tempted to use it and miss the empowering effects of hypoxia.

Don’t worry, though. Your mountain climbing doula will provide tons of support, encouraging you to get beyond the oxygen deprivation to your inner goddess.

I know that you’ve all heard stories of people who have died while climbing Everest. First of all, most of the people who have died DID have the Sherpas and the fancy gear; hardly anyone climbing Everest in hemp vests, without crampons, ice picks or ropes have died. Second, (let’s be honest here) most of the people who died on Everest weren’t meant to survive the climb. Some climbers just die and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Are you ready? Great, let’s go. And keep in mind that if you survive this climb, next time you can climb Mount Everest unassisted!

Amy Tuteur is an obstetrician-gynecologist who blogs at The Skeptical OB.

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  • http://www.thehappymd.com/ Dike Drummond MD

    I do believe this is a sideways slam to Ina May Gaskin and the book “Spiritual Midwifery”. Come on Dr. Tuteur … if you want to make a point here … go for it. Having a baby is not climbing Everest.

    Do you honestly think midwives shrug their shoulders and and think “some people were just meant to die?”. That is quite an axe you are grinding and I cannot see how this article is supportive to the women you serve … pregnant women looking for information and support in pregnancy and labor.

    Dike Drummond MD

    • ProudOkie

      Perhaps you should develop a “POMH” – Primary Obstetrics Medical Home Dr. Teuter. This could go along with the “PCMH” and the newly minted “PAMH” (primary anesthesiologist medical home). Then non-sherpa care would be “considered safe” as long as the checks are coming in your name. Nurse mid-wives should be proud to know they are such a threat to you. Your post is childish and promotes maximum eye-rolling. September 19th, 2012 was the day primary care physicians killed their relationship with NPs. You are doing your part to do the same for CNMs. Make sure you cross the bridge before you burn it……..oops, too late!

      • ProudOkie

        I understand as well…..my apologies for the smart remarks to you.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      There are two types of midwives in the US, certified nurse midwives and certified professional midwives. Certified nurse midwives are real midwives with education and training that exceeds all other midwives in the world. In contrast, certified professional midwives (CPMs) are not real midwives at all. The “credential” was made up by women who would not or could not complete real midwifery training. CPMs lack the education and training required of midwives in ALL other first world countries. The CPM is not recognized and is not eligible for licensure in ANY other first world country.

      Most women who have the CPM designation haven’t attended midwifery school of any kind. They have completed a program of unmonitored “self-study” and paid the fee.

      The “thought leaders” of homebirth are a self-proclaimed midwife who has no midwifery training (Ina May Gaskin) and who let one of her own children die at homebirth, a self-proclaimed “expert in obstetric research” (Henci Goer) who has no training in obstetrics or research, and a washed up talk show host (Ricki Lake).

      The Midwives Alliance of North America, MANA, the organization that represents homebirth midwives, spent the years 2001-2008 collecting data on the outcomes of planned homebirths. During that time they publicly proclaimed that they would release the data to show that planned homebirth is safe. Once the data was analyzed, they changed their mind. MANA REFUSES to release the death rates for the 24,000 planned homebirths in their database. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that MANA’s OWN DATA shows that homebirth increases the risk of neonatal death and they are hiding it so that American women will not find out.

      • http://www.thehappymd.com/ Dike Drummond MD

        Thanks for the clarification. Now I understand.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Gaskin is a biological essentialist who believes that women’s true fulfillment comes from giving birth vaginally and breastfeeding. She is also a feminist antirationalist who believes that science can be rejected as “male” and that women should rely instead on intuition. As a feminist and a staunch believer in women’s ability to understand and contribute to science, I cannot endorse anything that Gaskin writes.

  • Michael B

    Mountain climbing can be a beautiful and natural yet scary experience. We need to reassure climbers that we are always there for them. Most climbers in fact do fine regardless of who helps them, whether it’s amateur Sherpas or the Certified ones. . And those who wish to go it alone or use the poorly trained Sherpas can do so. What bothers me the most is when climbers are frightened into thinking that help from the Certified Sherpas is spiritually incorrect or dangerous. The amateur Sherpas say that suffering is part of the mountain experience. The smarter Sherpas and most climbers know better, especially those who have been to the top before.

    I operate a helicopter service on the mountain. Everyday we encounter climbers stuck with their amateur Sherpas screaming in agony and quagmired in deep snow at the base camp. And we only come when called, we don’t fly about looking for trouble. Our epi-pilots have navigated the mountain many times and know it like the back of our hands. We offer the slow scenic ride to the top, but we also have the turbo C-birds which can zip up there in just a few minutes if necessary. And we closely track our success rates, something the amateur guides don’t. Yes, there is too much reliance on those C-birds, and we need to figure out how to use them less. We’d probably use them less if we could get some real mountain reform and a little more truth-in-climbing. Personally I think we rely too much on those climbing monitors.

    We work closely with the Certified Sherpas who are caring and knowledgeable. Often the poorly trained guides have frightened the first-time climbers into thinking that using the smarter guides, or taking the helicopter is some kind of defeat. Of course, this behavior by the amateur guides is self-serving. If the certified guides are better why would anyone use the amateurs?

  • LastoftheZucchiniFlowers

    Dr. Tuteur – I get it and your metaphor was well chosen. Additionally, the allegory was very well written. I don’t know anything about Gaskin, but appreciate your comments and the fact that you acknowledge CNMs. What is your take on the PBS series, “Ask the Midwife”? I suspect that given its popularity and entertainment value (it IS a fantastic programme); it could launch a barrage of new blood into both your field and some of those ‘alternative’ routes. I personally recall an inordinate number of my fellow students (over 30 years ago) pining for OB futures for reasons I did not appreciate (being a kid myself and NOT yet a parent). So, well done, Dr. Tuteur. Your use of satire was effective and skillful and I applaud your effort. When legitimate providers become angry enough at charlatans who pollute the waters – our voices ARE heard and heeded. Just don’t forget that in our own ranks of ‘legitimacy’ there lurks the few dangerous types who are still practicing. We need to eviscerate THEIR presence as well, along with that of the ersatz ‘midwives’ (NOT CNMs). The plague of alphabet soup DOES confuse lay people!

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