Saturday, 19 April 2014

Why do people want to climb Mt Everest

or any other mountain? Why do they want to white-water raft, go abseiling, bungy jumping or on treks to the South Pole?
I have no desire to climb Mt Everest - which is probably just as well seeing as how I would have no hope of actually doing so.
But I still puzzle over why people want to do such things when they are (a) unnecessary and (b) dangerous. Twelve more people have just lost their lives on Mt Everest - people who guide other people up the mountain.
It was the mountaineer George Mallory - not Edmund Hillary - who responded to the question of why he wanted to climb Mt Everest with the words, "because it's there". Perhaps that is reason enough. His words have gone down in the quotation books - and history - as reason enough.
Yes, Mt Everest is there. So are a lot of other mountains. A lot of other things are there too. I suppose I am a coward. I don't want to row across the Atlantic or sail across it in a replica of a Viking boat. I don't want to be an astronaut or even try hang gliding. A trip in a hot air balloon? No thankyou. A trip in a helicopter? The only reason for considering that would be if it was going to save my life.
I don't want to fly in a single engine aircraft and I certainly don't want to parachute out of a plane. (I don't even like flying.)
I have no doubt more people in my life will tell me that I don't know what I am missing but I am not, despite my intense desire to see things, a good traveller at the physical level. I suffer from motion sickness. I get sea sick - that does annoy me. I love the sea but I don't want to be tossed around on it. I would rather watch it.
Yesterday I went once more to see my friend in hospital - and I will keep going because she needs visitors. Yesterday she did not want me to go and I stayed much longer than I intended. My sister came with me. We both came away aware that this time next year my friend will almost certainly not be here. She may not even last this winter. She will never travel far again.
But she taught in Papua-New Guinea and China and she has seen something of the world. When people asked her why she went to teach in those places she would tell them that it was a challenge. It was interesting. She wanted something different and more satisfying.
I think that might be another sort of "because it's there". And perhaps that also means the phrase has some meaning for all of us.
What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Why do I do things?

Because it is there, because I can, but most importantly, because I want to do it ... and sometimes because I have to do it, even if I don't want to!

Mt Everest is not included in any of those categories for me!

catdownunder said...

that's a relief Judy - I'd rather you stayed at almost ground level!

JO said...

Why do I travel to unlikely places, have close encounters with tigers ...

I don't set out to meet tigers, but I have a deep need to see the world, to find out how other people make sense of it. Or just itchy feet (I climbed Kilimanjaro, and that was fab!

catdownunder said...

And you have had some amazing adventures - but is Everest and adventure or a nightmare?