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

10 comments:

Rick Calohan said...

Sort of like my attempt to make it to work today, originally, I was schedule off half a day for Dorothy’s OBGYN appointment, but we decided to reschedule that for Tuesday. My summit today is to make it to Lee’s Summit from Olathe and back, I will begin my trek at around 10:30 AM, the 32.14 miles trek that usually takes 43 minutes to commute under normal conditions may take up to one to two hours under hazardous conditions. It is a challenge with many a driver ended up at the side of the road stuck in a snowdrift, or the on coming deer around the twisting winding bends of Lee’s Summit Road to make it to work. At night, visibility becomes increasing worse. I rather stay home after shoveling half my driveway with a snow shovel not a snow blower in minus 18 C or 0 F for you metrically challenged readers out there. Knowing that the Lord is my Shepherd and thou shall not want, that He is Sovereign in all affairs including my travels, my prayer is that He brings me safely home rather in this world or the next.

Woody Woodward said...

Like Rick, I made it to work and that's mountain climb enough. Why did I attempt to venture towards the office? I have no clue? Certainly no one is buying lumber in this awful mess. At least the quiet times allowed time to read my next Neuthetic Counseling book.
Wonder what the “all wise, all knowing, flagrantly formulating fictional-fact-finding ” Al Gore is doing to stay warm? Probably planning his next Nobel Prize winning speech of what used to be dubbed as “the atrocities and catastrophic effects of global warming”, now revised to a more tolerant, “climate change”.

Rick Calohan said...

Traveler’s Log Supplemental: We left the base camp an hour and 15 minutes after schedule due to various accidents along the route. We departed at 11:45 AM and arrived at our destination at 12:30 PM. The highways were clear at least on the Kansas side, it became increasingly treacherous the closer we got to the Summit. We plan to depart the Summit at 6 PM and expect to return to Olathe between 7-8 PM this evening God willing! SDG

Rick Calohan said...

Epilogue: As we descended from the Summit heading south along the ole Lee’s Summit Road via West on I-470 through Westbound I-435 to South Bound I-35 I expected to see a sea of red tail lights only to see smooth sailing at speeds of 50 to 55 mph on average. We arrived at the Santa Fe exit before 7 pm heading east then south on Claiborne around the horn then going east on Sheridan, then south through Winterbrooke, and finally safely home to the White House with it’s Christmas lights still aglow and if none were wiser would think it was an Italian Restaurant with the red and green rope lights. I entered my below freezing garage after learning earlier that the rubber hoses connected to the washing machine were frozen and had to make a decision to either A) use a hair dryer; B) a space heater; or C) open the heat vent to the garage. The furnace with its Aprilaire Humidifier a churning a balmy 68 F, it may not be until Saturday that the hoses gradually return to normal, not to worry with the better half working at Nordstrom we have enough clothing items to keep us in proper attire until the spring thaw. As I conclude my journal knowing that in a few minutes I shall dine on roasted chicken and potato with shredded cheddar cheese, tomato, and red & green bell peppers casserole,along with asparagus safe in the knowledge that at my disposal is plenty of adult beverages and three puros cubanos, and on hand my Krunin brewer for coffee if the need arises. I praise God for His Divine Providence to allow me to return safely home. SDG.

Reepicheep said...

LOL Rick.

I'm glad you made it!

Rick Calohan said...

Editors note: I don't know why I thought it was a Krunin Brewer other than it is what I have been calling it since we got it so it must have been the sub zero Artic weather we have been having. What I meant to write was Keurig Brewing System. It was a Christmas gift from my Aunt Donna

http://www.keurig.com

jeff said...

Mount Everest? Been there, done that. It's overrated.

morsel said...

Reading this book gives you a lot more respect for Hillary, who did it without the pre-positioned ropes and knowledge of the routes! Also, Mallory, who may have made it to the top over twenty years earlier-- no one knows for sure, since Mallory died on the mountain.

Reepicheep said...

I agree Larry.

Mallory actually made the climb almost 30 years prior I believe, and did so from the more difficult northeast approach. I kind of think he didn't make it based on the evidence, but who knows?

It's all amazing to me.

the last Mohican! said...

Pastor - may i recommend a book with the title "Minus 135 degrees". I forget the author's name, first name is Art but he and another climber made Mt McKinley on the first winter ascent. They lost a climber. Great book on the human dynamics plus what is involved getting up there. I felt like I was with him. This is a gooooood read. If you can not find it I might locate my copy and I will send it to you. Then you can just pass it to someone else.