What do you think about mountain climbers? Do you see them as great athletes, crazy lunatics, role models, suicidal maniacs, national heroes or something complately different? I am personally very facinated by thee people who are driven in to the mountains and i read lot's of books on mountaineering even if react badly to high altitude myself and will most likely never get to climb any of the highest mountains.
I see them as a combination of the first four. I wouldnt go so far as to call them a national hero as I feel that term is thrown around far too often.
Hi Claus :-) IMO they are crazy, but I understant them. I love mountains and I love "reaching the bottom of my power", although I do not climb at all.
I am terrified by their grit, determination and will-power. Like the marathon runners, theirs is a very lonely journey. What drives them? "Because it's there?"
It takes some level of crazyness to do this. Of the determined mountainclimbers who keep go up year after year, more than half of them end up getting killed on the mountain and they know it. Of course it's always sad when some people get killed, but these people are fully aware of the risk but do it anyway. I am really facinated by the psycology behind this and their determination. I am a person myself who have different goals in life than most and does crazy crap from time to time, but i am also a careful little pussy who does not run the kinda rissk they do, but they facinate me big time. For the same reason, i love the books by Jon Krakauer about climbing cause he describes these people better than any other writer.
Krakeurs books are great. He really has a way with words that explains it to laymen like me.
Yes exactly Scott. I will actually read any book he publishes. I even read "where men win glory" because it was a book by him.
I would feel a lot better disposed towards them if they'd clean up after themselves. I get very hacked off by all the hype of 'conquering the challenges of the natural world' if the people concerned then just leave an indiscriminate trail of very considerable litter behind them. I would like to hope that people who claim to be so attuned to nature and the elements would have some respect for it, but the photos from Everest during the summer when the thaw exposes suggest otherwise. I used to share an office with George Mallory's grandson (also George) who arguably did or did not conquer Everest before Hillary - whether he did so is largely academic, as he died in the attempt. Those guys operating in the pre-oxygen days were legendary ... but the lunch queue of people waiting to summit now??? Hmmmm ....
Im hardly an expert but from reading his books it seems if anyone is worthy of being called heroes it would be the sherpas. Most people dont give them a second thought but I wonder how many people made the summit without their help.
The tough guys these days go without oxygen and has generally done that since Meddner conquerd Everest without oxygen in 1977 i think it was. But all those that the rough guys call tourists leave a ton of trash on the mountains. And the sherpas are the coolest of them all for sure and at least they are starting to get better paid for their job these days.
Couldn't agree more Scott ... can anyone name one other sherpa than Tenzing? If not, then I rest your case ...
And one weird thing is that there are so many dead people up there that you pass, especially on Everest where it's a fairly narrow trail up and quite a few die cause you have many inexperienced climbers going there. Swedish climber Goran Kropp got under very heavy fire from the climbing community a few years ago when he took photos of dead climbers in the snow and published them in a book and it almost overshadowed that the guy did one of the most extreme trips of the 20th century when he cycled from Sweden to Nepal, climbed Everest without using oxygen and then cycled back to Sweden.
Apa sherpa has stood on the top of Everest 21 times. And i also know many other sherpa names, but that is sherpa people i met 2 months ago when i was there and i am not sure they have been to the top.
Claus, I think I read that there are now rules that state if a party obtains a permit to climb Everest they have to bring down a substansial amount of trash with them. Catherine I do remember a scadal about photos of the dead. I think I may be in the minority but I agree with the decision to publish them. Sometimes I think we sheild people from the grim realties too much.
They actually do quite a bit to clean up the mountain these days and the trash collecting groups are mostly led be the very serious climbers who live in the everest region most of the year. Both because they are generally a big part of the soceity and also because many of them has been up there many times and can quite easily go half way up and take some trash down. Swedish climber Goran Kropp for instance spend several months a year helping on this aswell as fundraising money for schools for sherpa children in the Everest region, until he also got killed in a climbing accident.
I personally don't see why the dead bodies should command special status. People who risk the climb should recognise the risk, and unless their colleagues undertake to remove the body if the worst happend (no pun intended), then I don't see why future climbers should pretend that bodies that lie immediately adjacent to the route don't exist. To my mind, they become part of the legacy and the landscape.
I think the controversy came because some of the photos of dead people he took were taken only the week after they died and one of them was of Scott Fischer who was at that time the biggest celeb among climbers and Kropp was bashed for trying to make money out of the death of his good friends. These photos were taken the week after the everest disaster in 98 where more than a dozen people died in a day on the mountain.
Agreed. I think in most cases it would be almost impossible to remove the bodies. At that altitude its all one can do to get themselves down safely. I bet those bodies saved some lives over the years by discouraging ameteurs .
Good point Claus, but the very laudable cleanup efforts are less important than what is being done to prevent current and future Everest climbers from dumping their crap? From an environmental management point of view, quite simply, what you bring up you should bring done. From an aesthetic point of view, I might perhaps draw the line at human excrement (although in principle, there's no credible reason for doing so).
They can't remove the bodies cause most of them are frozen to the ground and they would fall apart if they tried to remove them.
If it's indeed impractical to recover the bodies (which I agree with), then by definition, they become part of the landscape. In which case, future climbers can't be expected to avert their eyes (or their cameras) from what are literally dozens of corpses of those who have gone - and failed - before them.
And one big dillema for the serious mountain climbers who live in the region, climb withour oxygen, speak nepali and are generally very liked among the locals are that in order to finance their own climbs they need to take tourists up the mountain for money and this has been a big topic of discussion for many years in the climbing community and most people agree that this sucks and ruins the magic of the mountain, but their alternative is going home to boring jobs in their own country and i can see why they don't wanna do that. No way i would want that ordinary sh!t life back myself :) And the locals too are generally in favour of bringing tourists up the mountain too, cause it is a big money maker for some very low income communities, who would otherwise be very poor. And living standards in the everest region has improved a lot since the climbers started coming.
Catherine, I think they do take the poop down with them. I seem to remember a documentary where they discussed this and showed a sealed container :/ I may be mistaken, but I think I saw this.
Then we have to sympathise with them for such precision require at high altitude! ;)
Actually, from an ecosystem and degradation point of view, it's not the poo that's the problem - it's the toilet paper.
It's a combination of all the adjectives you mention. Mount Everest isn't an "off the beaten path" destination anymore. About 150 people (plus sherpas) reach the summit every year, and about 5 die yearly. Others lose fingers or limbs to frostbite. For one thing, they are conscious of life and serious injury threats and this is a common attitude found in all "extreme" practitioners regardless of the discipline. Some do things for a personal challenge, some for glory, or both. I don't, and most deserve my hat off. My biggest bow and respect though goes to those who risk and lose their lives through rescue efforts. It should be enough ethical that those who decide to attempt certain climbs should take the risks in full and be left to their fate. This at least is Reinhold Messner's view, who was himself unable to save his brother Günther's life. I'm a mountaineer but I deem my life more important than testing my limits or being remembered, therefore whatever I do is sort of average although enjoyable.
'Sort of average' is still far better than I will ever achieve, so, as our friend Erik would say: "Respect!"
Yes, I also have a fascination with Mountaineers - Joe Simpson is someone that particularly intrigues me - partly because he's from Sheffield, but his book Touching the Void had quite an impression on me - one that I read cover to cover in one go- I enjoyed the film too, but this is one of my Top 10 books. Also Alison Hargreaves, the mother from Derbyshire, who died descending K2. I watched a documentary after her death, when there was a lot of controversy about how a mother could do something so dangerous - a few mentioned that many fathers also did similar trecks. Finding this article explains the reason why she might have been so driven to undertake such a risky challenge. dailymail.co.uk/femail/artic... Yes, for some, the mountains are an escape, solitude, a challenge to conquer - and I understand their need more than those who take their risks underground - cavers/pot-holers - being somewhat claustrophobic!
Ed Hillary was revered here in New Zealand and is still pictured on a5 note ( I have one signed by the great man). He set up the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation to help Sherpas in Nepal - a great legacy. Read more at thesiredmundhillaryfoundatio...
So much to write about, so little time! Claus: I suppose you could always do something like take the Pike's Peak Railway in Colorado. That way you can climb a mountain without exerting too much effort. Don't know what to tell you about altitude sickness with that though. Some people do OK if they slowly adjust to the higher elevations. A friend of my mother's was on a team trying to get up something near K2 in the 1980s, and they spent about two weeks getting slowly higher in elevation to adjust to the altitude. Mountain climbing trash isn't just a problem on the famous peaks. Here in the lowly Cascade range of Oregon we have all manner of trash left behind by climbers - but Mt. Hood is apparently one of the most climbed mountains in the world as it is reasonably easy and not too many get killed on it every year. I definitely admire and consider as national heros those that were the first pioneers at getting to the higher peaks, It is a bit like the early arctic and antarctic explorers and others that went into lesser known lands without much help from technology or chance of rescue. Today, some of these peaks have been climbed thousands of times but by people who will always be known as the ones who came later. Not to minimize their effort mind you (except those whose primary skill was having a lot of money) but it isn't a venture into the unknown any more on many of these peaks.
I see them as adventurers who want to climb the highest mountains, but it takes a special type of person to accomplish what they have done.