Of all the ways to achieve a raging swellington — pills, injections, staring at great tits on the internet — ascending Everest is easily the most involved. But per a spate of online articles and anecdotes, peaking can indeed activate a major peak in your pants. The suggestion is that the high altitude atop a mountain can impact blood pressure in ways that can prompt random, prolonged boners.
Really, though? (If so, see you at the top!)
In search of the truth about mountain boners, I sent a series of awkward emails to, um, hardened Everest climbers, who immediately stole away any impulsive motivation I had to scale the mighty mountain. “I’ve been to the top of Mount Everest, and I’ve led more than 150 expeditions over 17,000 feet,” says mountaineer Ian Taylor. “I can’t say I’ve had any random erections while climbing at any time in my 20 years of high-altitude mountaineering.”
In a more impassioned response to my email, Sean Kristl of Alpenglow Expeditions says, “HAHAHAHAHAHA. Wow. I just have to catch my breath here for a second. That’s hilarious, Ian. No, I’ve never heard of that. There are strange things that happen up there for sure — like people wearing diapers — but I’ve never heard of high-altitude boners being a thing.”
Disappointed that my search for Everest boners was falling short, I decided to send out one last email investigating the science of high altitude on chubs, and whether it could lead to chubbier ones. Turns out, it has the opposite effect. “High blood pressure does not cause random erections,” says Alex Shteynshlyuger, director of urology at the New York Urology Specialists. “If anything, high blood pressure makes it difficult to get an erection. High blood pressure results when there’s a great resistance to outflow, which means the blood vessels are constricted. Thus, the blood has difficulty getting into the penis. Studies show that high altitude actually predisposes to erectile dysfunction, in particular those who ascend to high altitudes for less than a year. This is because of ‘hypoxia,’ a lack of adequate oxygenation of tissues.” (He adds that, given enough time, mountain locals eventually adapt to achieve boners, but it takes longer than a trip to the top of Everest.)
You can find me chillin’ at sea level then.