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Why did I climb a 20,000 foot mountain to open a coke bottle?

Creativity and Innovation

This post is a bit more personal.

When I was 29, I took 5 months to travel around South America.

While I was there, I spontaneously decided to climb a mountain.

Not just any mountain.

The 6,088 meter high Huayna Potosí in Bolivia.

That is higher than

My reasons were totally rational (and in no way an idiotic way to almost get myself killed):

  1. I wanted to see if I could do it
  2. Um… why not…?

What I should probably also tell you is that at this point, I climbed a total of zero other mountains.

And this was a mountain covered in glaciers, deadly vertical ice crevasses, high winds and air so thin you can barely breathe.

Looking back at it, it was truly a bad idea.

But I was curious.

And this curiosity would not let me stop until I had tried it, to see what it would be like, what the view was, and how I would react.

I have always been a very curious person.

However, in this instance, my curiosity made me do something which in retrospect was just plain stupid.

At the time, I drank a lot of Coca Cola. A lot!

And I thought: The gas in a bottle of coke is under tremendous pressure, but it is being held back by air pressure. What would happen if I opened a bottle with less external air pressure? Would the coke spray out like in one of those Diet Coke / Mentos fountain videos?

So, in my tiny rucksack which we carried to the top of the mountain, I decided to carry a 2 Litre bottle of Coke to open at the top.

Just to see what happens.

Bear in mind, when my body and brain were starved of Oxygen, carrying 2 kg of Coke felt like carrying 20 kg.

On the journey up I could barely breathe, lift my legs or walk. If it was not for the guides, I would probably also have fallen down a ravine. I felt like I would die from fear climbing up a small ice cliff. And it was the middle of the night in pitch blackness, because our aim was to reach the top for the sunrise.

But in the end, I pushed my body past every limit it had previously felt, because we just needed to go a little bit further.

A few more steps.

Into the clouds and snow, but just a few more.

And in the end, my group made it to the top. We were surrounded by clouds but could see the sun rise in the distance.

And then after the obligatory selfies, it was time for my big moment.

I handed the camera to our guide to photograph the big event. And then it happened, as I opened the bottle at nearly 20,000 Feet. (Yes, that is actually the top peak of the mountain).

A little fizz.

And then nothing.

Talk about disappointment.

See the video above to see exactly what happened.

Soooo, my curiosity resulted in a damning defeat.

But was it wasted effort?

At the time it felt like it, but in retrospect it was much more valuable.

Sometimes, just seeing what you are curious about and going for it can be a gamechanger.

If I had spent time before the climb logically listing the pros and cons of what might happen to the bottle on the mountain, it would probably have ended up looking like a bad idea

In retrospect, I KNOW it was a bad idea.

But I wanted to try it anyway. And so I did.

And since then, it has made me more willing to try other things I was curious about.

I would encourage you to do the same.

No, not climb a mountain!

Just follow your curiosity, just in case it takes you somewhere interesting.

Otherwise you will never know.

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