Most dinner party hosts worry about napkins, awkward relationships, or overcooked chicken. But Neil Laughton was more concerned with making sure his guests didn’t freeze to death.
On April 29, after a 3-week trek to Mt. Everest’s North Col— 23,031 feet up—Laughton's team of about a dozen climbers and Sherpa guides set up a table with a white tablecloth, cutlery, crockery, and a yellow flower arrangement. With a meal of miso soup, lamb tagine, and chocolate, they popped some champagne to celebrate their accomplishment: The Guinness World Record for the world’s highest dinner party.
"We had thermals on underneath our dinner jackets, and one person had a kilt on," Laughton told the Telegraph. "The two ladies were in full-length ball dresses, but we only lasted through the photographs in that get-up. We had to put our down jackets on to stay alive." He added that it was below zero degrees, windy, and snowing—even the champagne began to freeze.
This was Laughton’s sixth expedition to Everest. And it wasn’t his first attempt at the world’s highest dinner party. He took a different team up the mountain for a dinner party attempt in 2015, but turned back after an earthquake and ensuing avalanche killed 18 climbers and hundreds of locals, according to a blog post written by a team member.
The 2018 dinner party raised money for Community Action Nepal, a UK-based charity that funds local earthquake recovery efforts. So far, the expedition has raised more than $140,000 for the charity, and they’re still accepting donations.
"I don’t think it’s comparable with any other dinner party I’ve been to,” Laughton also told the Telegraph. “It's something that’ll live long in my memory, and in terms of charity money, we're right on track, which is the main thing.”
The team has since made it safely back down the mountain, according to their Instagram.