Editorial: Everest, the most beautiful of mountains

Posted: May 28, 2012 03:21 pm EDT

(Tina Sjogren) Everest is the most beautiful of mountains. Someone said peaks are nothing but piles of rock until they get stories attached to them and no rock has accumulated so many stories as the highest of them all.

This season didn't disappoint. When Russell Brice heard tales of the mountain spitting stone and ice (I'm getting a whiff of the Lama in Pangbuche on this one) he decided to wrap his team of wounded soldiers. A royal son and an army of evangelists came to defend his decision no the least on this site.

But there was another side to the story which - as once an expedition leader for a rope fixing team on Everest - I knew well. The task of logistics on the normal route is agreed on before anyone lands in Kathmandu. Who will fix what section, bring how much gear, and pay to whom was - at least in my days - decided on long before the season kicked off.

A main player like Himex skipping the mountain in the finals leaves the others in a pickle. I could sense the tension. Not to mention the realization that in light of the horror stories, if the other teams decided to carry on and disaster stroke (bound to happen statistically once in a while) imagine the pundits and the law suits.

Climbing is a straightforward sport. Spend the time and you'll be good at it. Give 10 000 hours and become an expert. But it doesn't guarantee courage Mount Everest has shown again and again.

Opening cans of worms you are bound to risk some of them will come crawling right at you and Everest hasn't been spared. Through the sensationalism and silly records the big questions have nevertheless prevailed: Do some climbers deserve to die, asked the story of David Sharp. And when should we give up on each other, asked the case of Lincoln Hall.

How courageous are we if we fail to give voice when kids are shot begged the sequel at Nangpa La. And later, from the summit of Everest burning stronger than the Olympic flame: what is the worth of democracy and free speech compared to climbing trophies and summit certificates?

Yep. Only on Everest.

I've felt on my own skin and covered for years the commercial abuse of un-attached mountaineers. I was not impressed last year when the mountain went mum at the death of a guided client but exploded in press releases at a bunch of failing independents.

This year I watched Brice's decision and the ensuing confusion with, I must confess, amused interest. Would the rest of the leaders patch up what gear and resources they had between them and challenge fate itself?

And then they did just that. This season, even I must give it to them, the commercial teams were pretty kick-ass.

There you have it, another story, carved in rock by Mount Everest.

#Mountaineering #Opinion #topstory

Everest climbers on Hillary step pushing right through bad karma, shaky logistics, and crappy weather.
Events forced makeshift logistics this season. Next year we might see two fixed lines on the Lhotse face.
This season they made it in spite of "everything being wrong." Another tale by Mount Everest has been told.

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