Few people have ever heard of Sandy Irvine. There is some evidence to suggest he may have been first, twenty-nine years earlier than Hillary. Irvine’s climbing partner George Mallory’s body was found just a few hundred feet from the peak. Since the highest temperatures are well below zero, clues are well preserved. Irvine’s camera with the answer has not been found, yet. We will never know, in those three decades in between, if others may have also reached the peak.
This much is clear and true. Hillary gets the credit because he was the first to make it all the way back down and tell the story.
I was trained on Wall Street to climb mountain charts. A dizzying map of different paths to invest in diverse assets. Navigating from the lower left of any page along jagged lines to the upper right was the climb everybody wanted to make. As long as there were higher peaks ahead, the answer to any question about risk was “just hang in there,” along with a nod and point to an Ibbotson chart on the wall, showing the long-term always worked.
It took me many years of studying those little wrinkles in time (we’ll zoom in on one below), which looked so smooth if seated far enough away, before I began to question those stories with math’s tools. I escaped Wall Street’s mountain of conflicted assets because “hang in there” is not a plan. It is recurring revenue for the mountain’s shareholders. That is not wrong. In fact, it is Wall Street’s obligation and business model to serve shareholders first.
Investors need their own Sherpas, called Fiduciaries, to lead them up AND down mountains, in all weather.
Very few people have heard of Namgyal Wangdi. Born in Tibet, he later lived in the Khumbo region of Nepal. The local Nepalese Sherpas called immigrants like him “Khamas” which meant low status and no money. Beginning in the mid-1930’s, he led more climbs of Mt. Everest than any other Sherpa. According to some accounts, it is entirely possible that he was the first to step foot on the peak with his climbing partner Edmund Hillary.