Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Climbing mountains

Image from here

I write another blog, for the Geege's business . Recently I did a post on The Wonderous Mt. Everest, not because I know a lot about it, but because there has been a lot happening there this climbing season. If you are not really into the great outdoors, I can understand that this fact will have slipped you by (and if you are, sorry for the repetition).

The whole, Climbing Mt Everest thing, has never been on my list. All that snow and wind and cold. Brrrr. I am developing frost bite just thinking about it. But it seems that there are many who do want to climb it. Increasingly more people each year are taking up the challenge. Despite the cold and the cost (upwards of $65 000), Base Camp is getting crowded. It beats me.

This year, the news from Everest sparked my interest on two occasions; one a 'high', the other a 'low' (sorry for the mountain pun).

Firstly, this American chap became the youngest person in history to climb it. At the tender age of 13, he and his Dad safely made the trip. I don't know how I feel about this. I mean, good on him and hooray that he made it. But WTF? Why do parents allow a 13 year old to climb Mt Everest? How does he get the idea and be permitted to do it? Obviously his parents are Mountaineering types. But 13? Thir-teen. Is it just me or is this a strange extra-curricular activity for a young lad?

And then this twenty-something motivational speaker British bloke perished on the mountain. Just three days later. He made it to the summit, but had nothing left in the tank (figuratively - I have no idea what state his oxygen tank was in) to make it back down. His friends/climbing companions had to leave him on the mountain. To die. Alone.

Now I have watched Touching the Void. I've thought about this ethical conundrum before. It must be very difficult to leave someone out there, knowing they won't be coming back, even if they are dying.

But you have to. It has to be every person for themselves in those extreme conditions. Evolution in motion. Survival of the fittest. I feel for the man's family and for his, probably traumatised climbing mates, but I know that if it were me, I'd have wanted to be left, so that the rest could survive.

What do you think? Do you think you could leave a man behind?

Do you reckon you have what it takes to climb Mt Everest? Mothering gives you the tenacity I think. But there is too much to lose.


A Farmer's Wife said...

I have been thinking a lot about Mt Everest recently. Mainly because I watched the ABC documentary about George Mallory. Couldn't climb it and, probably more importantly, no desire to.

The moral conundrum about leaving a climber is interesting and part of the reason the climb holds no appeal to me. Being in that sort of situation is something I would rather avoid, particularly as I think it would be with you forever.

Take care.

Photographer Mum said...

That would be a very hard position to be in - I don't know that I could leave someone behind to die alone. I think I would be traumatised for life. Survivor's guilt too.

Melissa said...

Were I fit and healthy (I am neither), then mountaineering would interest me. Though more base jumping and abseiling than climbing, to be honest.

I think I'm overly dramatic and I'd be a matyr and stay. Or at least, until I had children. Now I'd have to come back for them. But oh, leaving someone behind, how honestly horrific.

I am new to your blog, so I love getting a chance to read your older posts.

WriterMomBarb said...

I hope to never be faced with a leave-a-man-behind situation. My husband and I have discussed it in relation to what we would do if we had to choose between saving the other or our child. We both agree we would save our child. It would be awful, but as a parent how could you not choose your kid?

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

I watched that documentary series last year about Everest and was left feeling two things: it's like Pitt Street up there, it's a rich man's sport (yet those poor Sherpa dudes have to go along every time with no glory) and, really, what's it all about. Okay, that's three things. Also, you climb Everest at 13 - what do you do for kicks for the rest of your life? Talk about peaking early.

EB said...

And that's one of about a hundred reasons why I'll never climb Everest. Happy Rewind! Yay!

Marcy Too Timid said...

I think when people agree to undertake an expedition like that, they would have to decide in advance that they would leave someone if necessary, but, oh man!

I was also intrigued by your question about the 13-year-old. Last year, I let my 13-year-old go into an enclosure with a "medium" (big!) tiger in Thailand. It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. When my friends saw the photos, I got some heated criticism that it was irresponsible and dangerous for a parent to allow. I'm sure I could find statistics that it's more dangerous to let kids ride their bikes or ride in cars, etc., but maybe they were right? I certainly felt the 13-year-old shouldn't have been allowed to attempt Everest.

Alison said...

My friend 'did' Everest last year. He was part of the climbing support for a tv crew. He's an experienced climber who was constantly asked whether he had climbed Everest. He said it was an experience, that he wouldn't do it again but he was glad he he had. He also put on his FB site the most amazing photographs I've ever seen.
I'm happy looking at the photos, I don't have the 'urge' to go there myself. x

Mrs Catch said...

This is why I'll never be a mountain climber! Having to choose to leave someone to die would be horrific. The thirteen year old is an interesting case. I always say each to their own, but if your child died or where disabled by the climb, how would you live with yourself afterwards?

Jen said...

I once had a fascination with visiting Mt Everest Base Camp, these days, not so much. I can see why it lures so many though. As for leaving someone behind. I hope to hell I would never be in such a position as I think I would be to emotional to think make the right decision.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I'm interested by the 13 year old's parents. I'm of the view that it's my job to see that my kids live ot 18, after that I hope they have enough sense to keep themselves alive.
I can see the appeal of adventure sports, and am sure my boys will do some dangerous things in their time, but not on my watch. Imagine if that kid had died? How would the parents have felt? And for what? To break a record?

Quill and Ink Handmade said...

What a horrendous choice! Just imagine the guilt they'd feel, knowing that they'd left their companion to die? But that's the risk you take though, right?

One thing is for sure: I wouldn't be allowing my thirteen year old to climb that crazy mountain. No matter how motivated, or how passionate.
(I can say that now, because he's only three, and I'm still the boss)

Great post, MM x

Catherine said...

I alerady know that the only way I'll summit Everest is if the ydesign a copter that can fly that high and I can be safely deposited to snap a few pics and do a happy dance!

On a more serious note I too saw Touching the Void- what a powerful movie. I was left with the feeling that this is not something i can judge simply because I have no framework. Your life or someone elses or both of you?

What I have no patience for is those spoiled RICH trekkers who can pay the fees and have sherpas haul their lazy inexperienced butts up there. That I can judge.

Erin said...

Ah ethics! I really don't think I could leave a man behind. In fact it is a family saying here. but...ethics.. what if you had to because you had other team members relying on you to get them out.. what if a child was in the mix?

Diminishing Lucy said...

I am distantly related to an Antarctic explorer. I shake my head at what drives people to do stuff like this.

It baffles me, it really does.

Although, in my search for this weeks rewind post, I found one of mine about doing a high ropes course. And I recalled the adrenalin.

So maybe I do get it, a little.

MM, this is such a cool post - cannot believe it only got crickets the first time around!


Jane said...

I can't believe no one commented on this fabulous post initially, MM! Such a great poser. I would never try it. As a mum, there would be too much to lose if things went wrong. and 'Touching the void' was both stunning and haunting, a film I won't ever forget. J x

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh, I admire people who follow their dreams, but the thought of such a big thing is rather overwhelming to me. One of those things that I can't quite comprehend myself. Mind you, the other week I watched March Of The Penguins, and was devastated to see what those emperors go through in their quest to procreate. xx

Seana Smith said...

I read the book 'Touching The Void' a few years ago, one of the most remarkable, powerful books I've ever read.

But I do get it, used to do a lot of scuba diving as a young thing and I hung around with cavers and climbers then. I do get the 'because it's there' thing... and esp the rock climbing mind-focus, you and the rock stuff. But it's not for me!

I'd understand if my children wanted to climb every mountain... but maybe not Everest, too busy!

Anonymous said...

I'm not an extreme sports/outdoors type. I like a nice hike, but anything where my life could actually be in danger just isn't my thing.
I leave to those who are made of tougher stuff than I.

HeeWho said...

I think you hit on something with the tenacity of motherhood. Becoming a mom gives you too much to lose for either an attempt at something so perilous or to sacrifice yourself for the sake of anyone but them.

Charis said...

There is no way I could even imagine climbing Mount Everest!

And, yep, 13 does indeed strike me as a tad on the young side.

Marissa Roberts said...

That's why I prefer staying in and watching movies - the worst that can happen is I run out of Maltesars!

Couldn't imagine having to make the horrible decision of whether to leave someone behind..

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