Two of the things I am a big fan of are mountain climbing and mountain climbers.
Mind you, I have never been mountain climbing in my entire life, but I find the whole sport intriguing.
Now, I have done some hiking in the Tetons in Wyoming and other places, but nothing that would rise to any kind of technical climbing whatsoever.
I try to read as much as I can about the subject, and whenever there is anything remotely related to mountain climbing on television, I am glued to the tube.
A couple of years ago, The Discovery Channel aired a reality series about a group of climbers attempting to climb Mount Everest called “Everest: Beyond the Limit.”
It was six weeks of one-hour shows that left my wife wondering if my eyes were actually going to pop out of my head at the end of the each show.
In fact, one writer from the Associated Press described the show like this: “Bouncy, topsy-turvy footage shot by cameras mounted on the Sherpas’ helmets gives the viewer the queasy, almost stomach-churning illusion of climbing. The camera is unflinching. The series’ greatest achievement is how it illustrates the dangerous commercialization of Everest, capturing both the heroism and hubris of the climbers who go there.”
So, knowing my fascination with the climbing of mountains, Everest particularly, my bride had a print of Everest framed for my office. She also found three great books for me and included an old map she found somewhere.
The print of Everest has been a great topic of conversation for those that come in my office, a conversation that eventually comes around to the question, “You’re not going to climb it, are you?”
But it sure does sound like a heck of a great adventure.
I think we all have some type of great adventure inside us, an adventure that while exciting, isn’t always the most prudent thing to do.
One of those for me is climbing Mount Everest or one of the other 13 mountains in the world higher than eight kilometers or 26,000 feet. That’s 51/2 miles above sea level. This is equivalent to the size of almost 20 Empire State Buildings.
But Everest in the Himalayas and K2 in China/Nepal/Tibet, both of which are higher than 29,000 feet, always grab my attention.
I dream of the trip to the mountain, the planning for the adventure and finally summitting the mountain, knowing that I have achieved what very few on this planet have ever achieved. Sure, more and more people are plopping down $70,000 for a guide that may or may not be able to lead them up the mountain. But in the grand scheme of things, very few people, approximately 4,000, have even attempted it. Fewer, 660, have accomplished the feat.
What I don’t ever think about are the dangers of climbing Everest, the dangers that have claimed the lives of more than 140 through the years.
But even if you don’t die from falling or altitude sickness, there are even more dangers, including avalanches, frostbite and any number of illnesses that can be spread around the mountain by climbers.
What Everest is to me is more than a “pie in the sky” adventure dream. It is an inspiration that we can achieve things that are well beyond what our bodies are designed to achieve.
So, when I look across my office these days at the summit of Mount Everest, it serves as a reminder that we are only limited by what we can imagine.
But, no I don’t plan on taking off to Nepal any time soon.
However, if you have a trip to Tanzania planned, I could be convinced to make a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro. But that’s another story for another day.
Contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1018.
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