Thursday, January 7, 2010
The Lure of Everest
I have long been a closet Mt. Everest buff. There are several reasons for this, but suffice to say, I know I'll never have an opportunity to climb it, so I have read all sorts of stories about those who have.
In the last couple of days I have re-read "In to Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer. It is his firsthand account of the ill-fated 1996 climb on May 10 that caused the death of 12 climbers in one 24 hour period. 1996 was the deadliest year on record for Everest attempts, 15 climbers died trying to conquer the world's tallest mountain.
I will share a few quotes from Krakauer's book from time to time. Here are a couple that describe the irrationality of trying to summit such a behemoth of a mountain given all the obstacles that promise to take you down. The first is from Krakauer himself, the second is a quote from Walt Unsworth who climbed the mountain many years ago.
"There were many, many fine reasons not to go (to attempt a summit of Everest), but attempting to climb Everest is an intrinsically irrational act- a triumph of desire over sensibility. Any person who would seriously consider it is almost by definition beyond the sway of reasoned argument." - Jon Krakauer
"But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric; at worst mad…Everest has attracted its share of men like these. Their mountaineering experience varied from none at all to very slight - certainly none of them had the kind of experience which would make an ascent of Everest a reasonable goal. Three things they all had in common: faith in themselves, great determination, and endurance." - Walt Unsworth