Style, exploration AND the higher risk of altitude should be valued.
Image by ExplorersWeb, SOURCE
Editorial: International Mugs Stump for 8000ers, anyone?

Posted: Feb 17, 2010 10:28 pm EST
(By Tina Sjogren) If you are following the winter Olympics, you might have heard the current figure skating master Yevgeny Plushenko complain that while other sports are evolving with new record times; skaters are skipping the quad these days due to the high risk.

"In the 80s there were doubles, then skaters were jumping triples, triple axels and then the quadruple," said the Russian. But then something happened.

Now it's all about presentation, Plushenko said adding, "without the quad it's not men's figure skating."

In space the latest NASA budget proposal has cut our hopes for altitude beyond low earth orbit for a very long time. Favored are instead unspecified "game changing technologies" to be researched and tested right back on home-crust.

In mountaineering, many high altitude climbers complain that in the 90s, style on lower peaks became more valued than the added risk of altitude. In fact, statistics show that new route attempts have almost vanished on Everest these days.

Too much estrogen in our red meat as Yevgeny implies or are we simply regressing? Great coaches always direct skaters' attention to the focus of their eyes. "Where you're looking is where you'll be going," they say.

Nobody wishes for boring jump-machines, trillion-dollar moon-projects or mountaineering cluster-rapes. But, as Plushenko knows, style is highly vulnerable to human bias and powerful marketing. Throw in a quad and all that changes.

Where we are aiming is where we will end up, regardless our skill. Not one or the other but everything that marks human excellence is needed for ultimate progress.

While we can't do much about space and figure skating, we can affect mountaineering. Style, innovation AND the risk of altitude should be valued.

Beside the regular awards, a monetary grant (preferably international) for the many unclimbed challenges on the 8000ers would help propel both the sport and the brands sponsoring it.
#Opinion