Friday, May 26, 2006

different heights

There have been a bunch of Everest stories in the press lately – the legless bloke (who made it), the 15-year-old kiddie (who turned back), and a few blokes who never made it back. I think getting to the top of Everest is an incredible feat, despite not really empathizing – I have precisely zero desire to do anything remotely like that. But there's one thing that puzzles me (and I admit it could well be because I simply don’t understand the whole mountaineering thing):

The foreigners – usually, it seems, westerners – are feted and celebrated for making the summit (assuming they get back down). But the Sherpas – while apparently more acknowledged now than once upon a time) hardly rate a mention. From what I’ve read, they not only help the foreigners get to the top, but also scoot up and down the mountain rescuing the honkies’ arses. Why don’t their achievements count in the same way as those of the people who pay $70,000 for the chance to die?

It seems a little as if, say, Mongolians, were extraordinarily naturally good at, say, the marathon. They can run 42km half an hour faster than anyone else and they are employed at the Olympics to run alongside the non-Mongolians to make sure they don’t get hurt. They reach the finish line with, say, an Australian, and the Aussie throws his arms in the air, does a victory lap and collects the gold. The papers cover it on the front page and there’s a paragraph at the bottom that says, “Oh, and Smith’s Mongolian also saved a couple of the American competitors who were about to die from dehydration before rejoining Smith as he finished.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to mention the ethics/morals behind leaving someone to die by a rock because you feel you can't help them...and don't want to abandon your everest ambitions. could it all be blamed on the lack of oxygen? i don't think so.

1:58 pm  
Blogger secret wombat said...


2:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if its easier to get up the mountain now, what with all the bodies and oxygen cannisters to use as foot holds...


8:15 am  

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