The New York Times ran an op-ed this week about the dangers of mountain climbing this season on Mount Everest. The author points to global warming and the increase in the number of climbers as contributing factors to the heightened risk of an Everest attempt this year. He goes on to applaud an announcement by the leader of a highly respected climbing outfit who, in a highly unusual decision, has decided to cancel climbs for the rest of the season.
I can’t help but feel that mother earth continues to send signals that the time is now to do something to protect the last remaining natural habitats and wild places in our country. But will we listen?
I have always been fascinated by people who go to the ends of the earth to climb the highest peaks. Being a bit of an adventurer myself, I understand the drive to test oneself and the exciting challenges that only nature can provide.
My only experience with this type of mountain climbing has been from the comfort of my couch, through documentaries on the Discovery Channel or National Geographic.
I have always been struck by the ease with which the sherpas make it up the mountains, with very little fanfare or glory, while the climber gets all of the accolades. I am intrigued by the risks that mountain climbers are willing to take – frequently risks to themselves and to others – to reach the sacred peak.
Climbing Everest has become a highly commercial activity; perhaps this is what concerns me most. I am sure the climbing outfit who cancelled the rest of the season will pay a significant financial cost for that decision. In the long term, however, perhaps climbers will respect that owner’s concern for the safety of his climbers enough to boost the demand for his outfit in the future.
What do you think? But should there be limits on what money can buy? Why do we feel the need to conquer wild spaces for commercial use? And what is it that makes people want to risk their lives in activities like climbing Mount Everest? Have you ever done something like this? What made you want to do this? Do you think that there should be limits on commercial activity in certain wild areas? Or do you think that the market will regulate itself to keep places pristine?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!