by Mick Ryan The second step No longer just the world´s highest mountain, Everest is a brand and to climb it is to buy shares in the Everest industry, as well as an experience of a lifetime. Summit success no doubt ensures everlasting bragging rights at dinner parties and financial reward on the lecture circuit, although the latter is getting quite competitive with over 500 people summiting this spring bringing the total of summiteers to nearly 3,000. There are numerous competing Everest websites if you want the exact number (don´t forget to buy an altimeter whilst you are there). And soon you will be able to drive right up to it in your 4-wheel drive Toyota, film crew and PR department in tow…..as well as the accessories you need to perform your stunt to attract attention. Cynical? Maybe?China´s Xinhua News Agency has anounced that “China plans to build a highway on the side of Mount Everest to ease the Olympic torch´s journey to the peak of the world´s tallest mountain before the 2008 Beijing Games.” They continue, “Construction of the road, budgeted at $19.7 million would turn a 67-mile rough path from the foot of the mountain to a base camp at 17,060 feet into a blacktop highway fenced by undulating guardrails.” More reports at :www.guardian.co.uk, www.news.bbc.co.uk and www.yahoo.com, and being Everest, at several hundred other sources.