We’ve had a couple of stories in the Standard about a pair of local guys (click!) trying to climb Mt. Everest.
I really hope they get back OK.
No, I don’t really hope they make the peak. Frankly, I hope they have the sense to turn around when they need to even if they don’t make the top — most Everest deaths happen on the way down because people killed themselves getting to the top and didn’t have enough energy to get down again.
What’s more interesting is the problems they are running in to with avalanches, rock slides and so on. Global Warming/Climate Change is making Everest drier and more hazardous, to the point that at least one climb organizer has pulled out this year, as described in this article (click) in the NY Times.
I’ve never really understood why people climb Everest — I happily accept that if you don’t understand, you shouldn’t do it. Fine, but that doesn’t really explain why people do it now.
It is well documented that more tourists than actual climbers go up Everest these days. Guides and Sherpas do all the heavy lifting, the route is well marked and prepared, all the climbers have to do is show up and be able to get to the top — which is not easy, but it’s a lot easier now than it was 50 years ago.
In a way, maybe Climate Change is bringing a larger measure of risk back to climbing Everest — it’s not supposed to be easy, or risk free, but it’s almost become that. Hillary didn’t have aluminum ladders, pre-strung ropes or all that other stuff. He and Norgay had to do it the hard way.
Which, again, is why I hope those two local guys have the good sense, even in oxygen-starved areas above 25,000 feet, to turn back if they should.
Frankly, if someone makes it to the Hillary Step, 300 feet below the peak, I’d happily give it to them if it means they get back alive.