Flutterby™! : Where breathing is not a right

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Where breathing is not a right

2006-05-27 18:15:20.745291+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

There have been a couple of stories recently about a guy who died recently on Everest, and all the various other climbers who walked on past him. I think it's interesting looking at the various stories, the summit of Everest is something that costs close to a hundred thousand dollars unless you're actually good enough to be a guide on the climb, and you only get one shot at it, so there's a big incentive to not waste any resources or energies that might mean you (or your clients) don't summit.

I think in all cases when you go out of the mainstream society (in fact, most cases when you're in it) that you're responsible for your own well being, so I've no beef with those who walked on by, and I've been an enabler (guide) to those who were experiencing environments far beyond their solo abilities, so I have no problem with the notion that guides and resources are stretched thin and that most of the participants are incapable of saving themselves, but...

I wonder what the value that those "short roped" to the top get, it can't all be personal satisfaction, much of it has to be a social status thing, "Wow, you made it to the top of Everest", and I think a culture which encourages that sort of behavior, accomplishment by proxy, could perhaps stand a little introspection.

[ related topics: Ethics Sociology ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-05-27 19:00:11.280229+00 by: aiworks

Take this ancedote for what it's worth; I think of this every time I hear of Everest.

I used to attend the annual Lotus Notes love-in in Orlando called Lotusphere. Lotus would normally get keynote speakers who were interesting and, at best, tangential related to Notes (I remember Walter Kronkite keynoted one year and talked about how much the business of news sucked). Anyway...

One year, the keynote was two guys who took three tries to scale Everest. They had pictures of their first two times; I recall those photos as these two guys, a sherpa, and a yak crammed into a tent and huddled together for warmth. They talked about how before both attempts they would backpack around the U.S. asking people for money to climb Everest. I don't know how little money they collected for both those attempts, but I do know it was close enough to critical that getting to Everest involved hitchhiking to save cash.

The final successful attempt was sponsored by Lotus (I don't remember why). The pictures looked like a military operation: a base camp standing by for rescue, maybe 8 people doing the ascent, satellite phones and Internet, matching snowsuits, and matching tents (all in Lotus yellow, of course).

These guys clearly had a bad case of "itchy feet." I got the impression that they were fairly distressed about what to put their energy into next.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-05-29 20:35:39.13765+00 by: petronius

News update: According to the Times of London, the death of the hapless Everest climber has been slightly exaggerated.

As to the motivations of rich mountaineers, I was once waiting in line at Starbucks in the ritzy Chicago suburb of Gencoe (you see Harold Ramis fairly often there). In front of me were two mommies with babes, each a rich, fabulously fit knockout, as the rich often are. One was telling the other that her hubby was currently climbing Everest. Besides my amazement at somebody who had $100K to blow on such a stenuous whim, I wondered at a man who would risk widdowhood for his yound wife and fatherlessness for his cute daughter over such recreation. I also wondered at the pride by the wife, instead of her telling him that if he got up there he shouldn't bother coming back.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-05-29 20:50:05.961542+00 by: Diane Reese [edit history]

petronius, these are two different Everest climbers, one (David Sharp) was confirmed dead after summitting, the other (Lincoln Hall) survived in an ice cave but without equipment.

According to EverestNews, at least 10 have died thus far in the 2006 climbing season.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-05-30 14:53:03.348705+00 by: petronius

Two climbers? Oops, sorry.

If he didn't have any equipment, that is a good reason not to take the discount Lonely Planet Everest tour.