Thursday, July 24, 2008

Naming Rights

This lovely ice pyramid in the Hindu Raj of Pakistan is the mountain formally known as Peak 5,519m, now called Somerset Ski Club Peak. It received this rather unlovely name when an Italian expedition climbed the mountain last summer and then auctioned the name to the highest bidder: the Sci Club Somerset in Turin, which paid 8,500 euros (around $13,500) for the naming rights. The money will be used to help fund a new aqueduct to supply water to the village of Ghotulti in the Chhantir Valley, not far below the newly named Somerset Ski Club Peak.

Selling the names of mountains to benefit the nearby residents is all well and good. But why stop there? Here's how my quick-thinking boss, John Harlin, responded when I mentioned the naming of Somerset Ski Club Peak: "That could be a great business. Collect big bucks for naming peaks after people's deceased relatives (grieving parents should be easy pickings), companies, schools, clubs, girlfriends (Valentine's presents), chihuahuas, etc, etc. Then spend a month in Kyrgyzstan or Tibet or Yunnan collecting your 100,000 euros per year for doing what you love doing. Unfurl commemorative banners on summits, place pictures of loved ones in cairns, scatter ashes, say a poem, whatever they want. Totally cheesey, and yet a totally cool way to make a living."

Sounds good to me. I'm in.

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