Tuesday, March 11, 2014
I was an avid tree-climber as a boy. Although we had a large garden at Dovers, the family home, there weren't many suitable trees for climbing. However, there were wonderful opportunities at my prep school, Port Regis. I formed a "Tree Climbing Club", and taught many other boys the best routes. In my mid-twenties, living in the Wirral peninsula of Cheshire. I enjoyed solo climbing in the mountains of North Wales. What I was doing would be called "bouldering" by Shannon these days. I barely remember climbing with others on a rope, although I probably did this a few times. These memories surfaced recently as a result of news accounts of the damage being done by climbers insisting on conquering Everest, the world's highest mountain. The days of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who accompanied him on his historic conquest of the mountain, are long over. Hundreds of climbers from various countries have made the ascent, usually leaving a lot of debris behind them, including mounds of excrement. Some clean-up has taken place, but the mountain is still littered with debris. Recently, four corpses were removed from the mountain, victims of failed attempts to reach the summit. It is not cheap to climb Everest. I saw an estimate of the range between $30,000 and $120,000 as the cost for an American team to purchase, transport, and use the equipment needed. Part of the cost is needed to purchase a permit from the state of Nepal. Suggestions have been made to eliminate or (more likely) curtail the number of climbers, but apparently this would have a major effect on the Nepalese economy. There are many other mountains in the Himalayas which would challenge mountaineers, such as K2 and Kanchenjunga, and it would be desirable to divert most future climbers to one of these challenges. However, I don't think that any action would prevent those who are determined enough - and wealthy enough - to attempt an ascent of Everest. Perhaps we should rename that mountain "Neverest".