Sunday, May 30, 2010

Everest, here I come.

Every now and then one gets to read about someone having climbed Mt Everest. As climbing the mountain, by itself, is no longer newsworthy, some other unique achievement needs to be tagged. This takes the form of “ first to climb from the Southern side”, "first Indian woman to climb Mt Everest”, “youngest Indian to climb Mt Everest”, “first from Tamilnadu to climb Mt Everest”, “ youngest woman from UP to climb Mt Everest”, “first to climb with a Supersuit on”, etc.

Without doubt, climbing the tallest peak in the world is a formidable task and a test of endurance. The achievement cannot be belittled. But, why the hell do these people do it? What are they trying to prove? What purpose does it serve? The novelty value is long gone and the story barely gets into the newspapers ( or even Reader's Digest). Is it to prove to oneself that he/she is capable of doing it? Why risk one's life to do it?

George Mallory is supposed to have replied “ Because it is there”, when asked why he wanted to climb Mt Everest. If a thousand people after him give the same reply, it can get a bit tiring. ( As an aside, when a writer, I don’t remember who, was asked why he kept writing, he replied, “ because it isn’t there”.)

Soon, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, nobody will go to Mt Everest any more. It will be too crowded.

Update 29/06/10 : An article in The Telegraph explains the attraction of Mt Everest:

"Dr Tim Woodman, co-director of the Institute for Psychology of Elite Performance at Bangor University who has studied what motivates mountaineers, believes many climbers do it to fulfil a basic human need.

“A lot of people who climb mountains like Everest struggle to explain why they do it,” he says. “Mountaineers tend to be people who don’t feel in control of emotion in their everyday lives. Emotions are a basic human requirement, and mountaineering allows them to feel fear, a very strong emotion, and be responsible for controlling that emotion.”

This might explain why Everest still has such appeal. As the world’s highest mountain, it represents the ultimate challenge and battle against nature’s forces. "


kd said...

People regularly climb peaks all over the world. In fact there is this back-burner wish of mine to climb a peak near my place (it is supposed to be one of the most difficult climbs in the country). Why not climb Everest as well? Because it is one of the most dangerous ones? That is precisely what makes it so alluring to climbers. 'Because it is there' is the best way to describe the reason.. even if a thousand others have already been there!

ramesh said...

well having climbed the mt everest makes for a more exciting narration than a trip to say ooty .. and of course we all like exclusivity ..

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