On Wednesday we summarized for you the thrilling Julia Reed profile of socialite Sandy Hill in December's Vogue. See, she has a new cookbook coming out soon, and according to today's New York Post, her first husband Bob Pittman isn't amused. Seems all she cooked when they were married was on the raw food diet! Anyway, the point is, after our post we got a tip from a highly-placed source who goes by the name of "Grace Obstreperous." Grace has been in the ladymag industry for awhile, and she knows whose closets the skeletons hang out in and where the bodies are buried, so to speak. Well, that is, except for certain bodies that died at altitudes too high to ever find, no thanks to oxygen-hoggers like Sandy Hill! After the jump, the Obstreperous primer on why people hate Sandy, and whether you should, too.
The Everest expedition Julia Reed mentions in her Vogue profile of horse-country doyenne, Sandy Hill ? You know, the one where someone died? It's the same one that Jon Krakauer chronicles in a little New York Times bestseller called Into Thin Air. It also happens to be one of the deadliest expeditions of the deadliest year in the mountain's history; eight climbers died, all more experienced than Sandy.
It's easy to see why Reed's reference is cursory. Fatalities kill our wealth-porn buzz, too! Plus, Hill hardly escaped the media blitz surrounding the release of Krakauer's account unscathed. For one thing, it seems this cowgirl was lassoed to summit. Short-roped to her Sherpa, Lopsang, Hill got a helping hand when she apparently ran out of steam on the final ascent. For another, our intrepid socialite had a tendency to hog the supplementary oxygen, which is maybe okay if you and your fat cat friends are just using it recreationally back at the ranch, but is nevertheless a huge faux pas above 23,000 feet.
In spite of these details, the inimitable Ms. Hill apparently brought her hostessing-with-the-mostessing A-game to the high peaks. (If Auntie Mamewere to mountaineer, she'd do it Sandy-style.) She toted a cappuccino maker! She planned to document her adventure in an appropriately house gift-y coffee table book! She even entertained company at her Himalayan home away from home! And by company, we mean 26 year-old snowboarder and fellow climber Stephen Koch, who initiated Hill into the several-mile-high club.
Since Nepalis believe that Everest is sacred, and therefore deserving of a certain amount of reverence (which roughly translated means, "no fucking") the coupling sent ripples of panic through the Sherpa community. To which I say, reverence, schmeverence. As anyone who's ever tried to do it in airport bathroom can attest, tempting the gods is a small price to pay in exchange for the square footage a small tent affords.
All of this would have, of course, made for a great story if she was willing to fess up and take some heat. And in the August 1996 issue of Vogue, she wrote a first-person account of the trip.
She summarized the particular difficulties involved in climbing Mt. Everest and glossed over the real dangers, presenting her experience as relatively uncompromised by difficulties, and leaving the impression that she came away relatively unaffected. Perhaps that was so.