Sunday, May 26, 2019

Great things made Ridiculous

That is a queue of climbers, 320 of them in fact, standing on a mountain ridge just a few days ago: Wednesday, May 22, waiting to make the final climb to the summit.

The ridge is at 8000m altitude and the summit is, of course, that of Mt Everest.

Seven people have died on the mountain in the last week alone. Two on that Wednesday, and one of them almost certainly because she was trapped by this traffic jam in "the death zone" for too long. Both of them were in their mid-50's and reasonably experienced climbers.

I get the idea that people want to achieve things, including getting to the tops of mountains if they're climbers. But the Mt Everest summit achievement is starting to get stupid. What sort of boast is it any longer when it's literally a queue to get to the top? Why not tackle slightly lesser peaks like K2, peaks which are no less challenging, sometimes more so from a technical point of view, and in some respects more dangerous than Everest.

Okay. One can say that I don't get it because I've never been into mountain climbing, but by contrast I'm incredibly impressed by the feat of Alex Honnold, who in 2017 free-climbed the 3000 foot high granite wall of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

Free-climbing means no ropes or any other safety gear. He used only his feet, hands, body and a degree of mental discipline that is almost literally beyond belief. Moreover he did this after years of practice free-climbing on increasingly long climbs, plus climbing the wall with ropes so as to build up the incredibly detailed plan of the route he would take and how each single step would be done.

He did it in 3 hours 56 minutes.

I doubt they'll ever be a queue for this effort, nor guide companies to help you along the way.


pdm said...

Not my idea of fun Tom.

I would settle for seeing Everest from a distance and that is probably not going to happen at my age.

gravedodger said...

Time to end the stupid carnage, a conclusion I arrived at when Rob Hall, an experienced NZ Mountaineer died there 23 years ago while participating in climourism.

Totally amazing to me there have not been calls to build a road and electrify the service

Previous to that tragedy to me personally, Hillary and others had protested the accumulating expedition residues as a threat to the Mountain and its future on many occasions.

Around that time I asked a contemporary of Hall if he could get me to the summit of Mt Cook and when he replied he could that ended for me such arrant stupidity.
Fast forward two decades or so and Mark Inglis who, caught on Cook in a blizzard later lost both legs to frostbite gave an inspiring address to an annual service club convention after he, using Carbon fibre limbs had summited Everest.