About midway through this post, some of you will begin to disagree with me...
Mount Everest fascinates me. For as long as I can remember, I have read and watched anything and everything about people's attempts to climb the tallest mountain on earth. I watched the "Beyond the Limit" series on the Discovery Channel, and the IMAX movie. I read the Krakauer book ,"Into Thin Air", and the mediocre TV movie it inspired. I've read books about Hillary & Norgay (The First pair to summit, and Mallory & Irvine (the pair that might have beaten them by 29 years). It is amazing to read about these climbers.
Everest is in the news again because the brief climbing season of 2012 just ended. And it was rough one - at least four people died. But the fear of death doesn't stop them. Since 1953 over 3000 people have reached the top of Everest. Just a couple of weeks ago a 73-year-old woman summited. The oldest man was 76. A couple of years ago, a 13-year old reached the top. In 2001, a blind man made it to the summit. (At least that's what they told him. No hate mail - it was a joke.)
In fact, there were so many people trying to climb Everest this year, that there was a huge traffic jam. 150 people in one day, 200 people the next. See the dark line in the following photo? It is made up of climbers waiting for their turn.
Some estimates say over 3000 people have stood atop Everest. Over 200 people have died trying - and most of their bodies are still up there. That is about 7.5% death rate.
So why am I so fascinated by Everest? Is it because climbing Everest represents the ultimate battle between man and nature? Is it because it tells tales of what strong men and women can endure? Is it because "It's there"?
Not really. The reason I am so fascinated by climbing Everest is because I think it is the worlds greatest representation of pride and selfishness - completely driven by ego. I am constantly baffled by the entire process - and I watch out of a morbid curiosity to understand better.
Why would I risk my life, and risk leaving my EC a widow, and my kids as orphans to go climb a mountain that thousands of other people have climbed? (Or for that matter, a mountain that nobody has ever climbed.) In this case, a mountain that a 76-year-old man can climb. Would I play Russian roulette with a gun that had one bullet and 10 empty chambers? Nope. I recall tragic stories of men stranded and dying on top of the mountain phoning home to say their last goodbyes to their devastated wives and children. (I would be sooooo mad.)
And the point of saying I climbed Everest is what, exactly? "I stood on top of the world, next to grandma?" "I spent years of my life and huge amounts of money to be able to say "Lookie what I did!" - Knowing full well that the only reason I even got to the top is because I hired some amazing Sherpa to drag me there."
I don't get it. I don't understand how so many people either live their lives in a vacuum, or think they live their lives in a vacuum, that they can risk death doing something that has absolutely no real purpose or meaning - just for ego. Does my life really impact so few people that I can throw it away to cross an item off my "bucket list?"
Then again, I don't understand a lot of things we do. We sacrifice time, talent, and money chasing things that do not matter. Sure, they might matter to us, but that doesn't make them matter. We can convince ourselves that most anything is important if we try hard enough, or invest enough time, money and energy into it.
At the end of the day, we have plenty of mountains to climb that are full of risk and adventure. Mountians that really matter to us and to God. Why go chasing ones that might kill us?
photo source and article