How about an expedition to Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world ? Sounds exciting ? I think the answers from people would be flat yes or no, nothing in between. People saying yes might feel it as, exciting and challenging. While majority of the people in No category might consider is reckless or don't find themselves, that courageous.
I am currently reading Into thin air by Jon Krakauer. It's a book about the expedition to Mount Everest in 1996, leaded by Rob Hall, when On the summit day, a storm threw in killing eight climbers while leaving several others stranded. It's a marvelous book which gives insight into this extremely different life of what is called An Expedition.
Challenging game or a reckless sport ? Ignorant of the life on the mountains, the pain, risks and the dangers associated with every expedition, we consider it as either of these.
With higher altitude, the air gets thinner, our brain gets lesser and lesser oxygen, the body retaliates. The difficulties grow even worse as one moves higher. It's no easy job, only a strong willed person can do it.
Talking about life, when climate conditions are so harsh and when you see only rocks and white bed of snow all around for months, I cant imagine what could be the feeling. The high altitude sickness like severe headaches, vomiting, vertiginous etc, which affects almost everyone, how could you enjoy your days ? With so much sickness, II wonder from where these people get the motivation and desire to march ahead. It requires determination, strong will power and belief in oneself. You have to forget the frost bite and put on the shoes to move ahead. Your head may ache badly as if somebody is drilling nail into it, but still you have to take as a part of life.
The risks and dangers associated are no less. Crossing the glaciers gingerly over the crevasse and climbing over the rocky mountains, think of just goal and survival when the snow is pelted at 100 miles/hr. Sounds too arduous to me. How many of us can do this ?
HAPE is a fatal disease. In this case excessive fluid gets accumulated in lung tissues and the person may even enter coma if not taken seriously. The book mentions about a sherpa suffering from HAPE, the fellow climbers could actually hear gurgling sound when he breathed. The only remedy is to descend.
HACE is another fatal disease where the brain swells and may even stop functioning. The account of this I cannot forget from Into thin air, where Jon Krakaeur mentions about one of his colleagues after reaching higher campsite, had tea with others, later returned to his tent to sleep. He almost slept for 24 hours. When others woke him up, he said he didn't realize he had been sleeping for so long. That's when they realize that his brain is not functioning properly. They asked him to descent immediately which is the only remedy.
I am very sure that if ever I go up there I might get ill, just thinking over these fatal diseases.
There's so much pain, endurance and making right decision at critical times, that when you finish the job, you would no longer be that ordinary guy. The ascent would induce in you confidence, patience, sagacity and endurance.
It would be wrong to call mountain climbing reckless as there is no place for recklessness. You have to be very careful in every activity and should be properly planned. Sometimes when body is not supporting mind, climbing down when the summit is just within an hour, is not an easy decision. Only the clever can make it out.
After knowing all the facts and the difficulties that comes in package with the expedition, if one thinks of taking the challenge then that person is simply extra-ordinary, according to me.
Hats off to the climbers!!
Interesting things to know :
Some admirable names :