The World’s Highest Dinner Party

They say that the golden age of exploration is over. Only the depths of our oceans remain relatively unexplored. So what is left for the aspiring adventurer to achieve? We’ve entered a world of increasingly subtle qualifiers, with those keen to etch their name into history really having to study the fine print. Neil Laughton’s latest charity stunt certainly can’t be charged with subtlety.

A former British Royal Marine, Laughton has just hosted the “world’s highest dinner party” on Everest’s North Col. At 7,050m, the group of six men and two women, “bested” the previous record by over 1,000m.

The dinner party included a full dining table and specially prepared menu. Photo: Neil Laughton

The black-tie dinner party featured a three-course menu designed by two-Michelin-starred Nottingham chef Sat Bains, and an array of alcoholic beverages to ensure it qualified for the Guinness World Record. Diners wolfed down miso soup, lamb tagine and a chocolate dessert. Champagne flowed, at least until it began to freeze in the -25oC conditions. Laughton proudly explained that “despite that, we did still manage to stand for the loyal toast to Her Majesty.”

The entire meal had been dehydrated back in the UK, requiring only the addition of hot water on Everest. Photo: Neil Laughton

This isn’t Laughton’s first trip to the circus. He has previously flown a car across the Sahara and played cricket at the South Pole. All the stunts have been for charity, with this latest effort benefiting Community Action Nepal, an organization dedicated to improving Sherpa communities.

The dinner party had been some time in the making. An initial attempt in 2015 was called off after the tragic earthquake. This season, Laughton and his guests spent three weeks traveling with a team of Sherpas and acclimatizing to the altitude. They held a trial-run dinner party at Everest Base Camp before a smaller party made their way up to the North Col for the main event. The group only lasted through a few photos in their ballgowns and dinner jackets before they had to put their down jackets back on to survive.

The test-run at Everest Base Camp. “There were no parlour games, but I don’t think it is comparable to any other dinner party I’ve been to,” Laughton explained. Photo: Neil Laughton

The record was reported in the UK newspaper, The Telegraph, and the comments have, by and large, not been kind. Twitter has likewise been aghast:

“Privileged prats”

“Disgraceful and ludicrous vandalism”

“Would they have expected rescue if the weather had turned?”

Over £100,000 has been raised for their charity so far. The question of how much the whole endeavour cost remains unanswered.

Previous / Links:

Spring 2018 Himalaya Coverage

Trekking the Khumbu – Everest Season 2018

The Telegraph News Story

Community Action Nepal