A Twitter friend sent me to a ghastly link last week. It had to do with the numerous dead bodies that litter the slopes of Mount Everest. They are individuals who have attempted to climb to the summit of the tallest mountain in the world only to meet their end. It is not for the faint of heart or the squeamish, (or homeschool mothers), but is a dark study in human nature,
I’ve never had a desire to pursue such thrill seeking danger. As I have matured and was blessed with a family, any “extreme sport” pursuits were definitely crushed. Bungee jumping looks like a load of fun, but the faces of my smiling wife and children keep me from throwing myself off a bridge with only an elastic band for safety.
Now, I understand their desire for sure, but wonder if such individuals truly count the cost of pursuing it at such great extremes. I mean, if you get into trouble on Mount Everest, you might as well be on Mars, because no one is going to help you. In fact, what was a bit troubling to read were the accounts of various individuals, in one case, a woman, who accidentally fell, called for help, but no one helped. Her husband came looking for her, but fell to his death in his attempt.
But again, it’s not like people didn’t necessarily want to; they just couldn’t. At 29,000 feet, the altitude passenger jets begin their landing descent, there is just no ability to help anyone in trouble.
I was reminded of Jon Krakauer’s opening chapter in his book Into Thin Air that chronicles the death of 10 Everest climbers in a mountain storm back in 1996.
Straddling the top of the world, one foot in China and the other in Nepal, I cleared my oxygen mask, hunched a shoulder against the wind, and stared absently down at the vastness of Tibet. I understood on some dim, detached level that the sweep of earth beneath my feet was a spectacular sight. I’d been fantasizing about this moment, and the release of emotion that would accompany it, for many months. But now that I was finally here, actually standing on the summit of Mount Everest, I just couldn’t summon the energy to care. … My watch read 1:17 P.M. All told, I’d spent less than five minutes on the roof of the world. (Jon Krakauer, Into Thin Air).