Been obsessed with Mt. Everest climbers lately. Unedited, haven't posted in 2 months.
While recently pursuing my favorite hobby (mindlessly surfing the Internet), I was hit with a sudden fascination with another favorite hobby, mountain climbing. Not fascination with doing it, although in my younger days I did hike up Mt. Marcy, the highest peak in New York State. No, I mean my fascination with people who are fascinated by it and will go to extremes to conquer the highest summits.
I get adrenaline rush. We all enjoy it to some extent. But I cannot fathom those who face the most perilous conditions just to say “I did it.” The death-defying feat I am particularly obsessed with these days is the climbing of Mt. Everest.
I have been reading about those who have died in this endeavor. And the thing that amazes me the most is that most deaths occur on the way DOWN, after the climber has summited. Even more amazing, the greatest contribution to death is not the weather, lack of oxygen or gravity, although these are very often the DIRECT cause of death on Everest. But the main contributing factor is apparently over-population. There are so many people with “summit fever” that you could die just waiting in line.
Read that again.
The next time you’re in the Magic Kingdom and want to say something like “Waiting on this line is killing me!” pause for a moment and think of the implications. Then think of those who have run out of oxygen while waiting in the “Death Zone”. Or those suffering from summit fever while climbers walked by, focused on getting to the top rather than helping a suffering human being.
The dangers are real without having to share a rope with 50+ other people.
In my “research” (I call it that tongue firmly in cheek), I came across the climber known as “Green Boots”.
Green Boots was found in a cave, now know as Green Boots cave, in 1996. Unidentified for years, he is now believed to be Tsewang Paljor, member of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police who was lost that same year. This is the accepted story, although the body has never been officially identified. Green Boots has become a landmark that other climbers need to pass on their way to immortality.
Paljor was a 28-year-old experienced climber, in good physical health and condition, and was ecstatic to be chosen for this expedition. I have been thinking about what drives a young man with a wife and young children to undertake such a feat. I do not mean to pass judgement here. Green Boots is more a symbol of the bigger picture here. I believe there are people who are genuinely driven to these activities. But the rise in number of Everest summit wannabes seems to be a symptom of what’s going on in society in general. It seems that many push to the top so they can get that selfie and post to social media to let the world know that they made it. Of course, they don’t let you know how many oxygen tanks, garbage and excrement they left along the way, not to mention the bodies they used as landmarks. In a way it makes me look forward to people posting pictures of their meals on Facebook.
To me, Green Boots represents the musicians, actors, artists, etc. who trained and perfected their craft until they were ready to unleash it on the world. All the others are the YouTubers who take Andy Warhol’s quote about fifteen minutes of fame as a mandate, as an entitlement.
In the words of Yonden Lhatoo, Chief news editor of the South China Morning Post, “Still want to climb Everest because it’s there? Well, it’s not there for you. Leave it alone.”