Sunday, May 16, 2010
Summits of Everest. At what cost?
I sit here at E.B.C. typing away on the computer knowing that right now, at this very moment, there are many people either standing on the summit of Mount Everest or are closing in on the final, few, hard won meters. I salute their courage and tenacity. However, the summit is only halfway. What good is standing on top if you can’t make it down? From the several radio transmissions we have heard a few of these people have been climbing toward the summit for more than 12 hours. They have been climbing through wind gusts in excess of 50 m.p.h. Their oxygen supply must be getting dangerously low. Their chance of severe frostbite is almost certain. Of course the latter observations are pure conjecture. Either way the conditions that these climbers are enduring are outside of our team’s realm of safety. I understand the possibility of trying for the summit if there was no acceptable weather window in sight. I understand trying if your remaining days on the mountain were limited. From what our team can determine a very suitable weather window is developing in just a week’s time. The winds are forecasted to diminish to a more suitable level, the chance of precipitation is dwindling, and the summit temperatures are expected to rise to a very balmy –13F. I do not know what leads one climber to accept certain conditions and another climber to whole-heartedly disagree and reject them as unsafe. I do know that we all have the same goal in mind and that is to stand on top of the world and return home safely. And safety is what I am hoping for for these few brave souls who are presently enduring extreme conditions. No mountain in the world is worth a person’s life. No mountain is worth not returning home to the loving arms of family and friends. For now we will continue to analyze the data presented to us in the hope that we will soon receive our chance of scaling the upper reaches of Mount Everest.