Monday, October 29, 2012

Beckoning Mount Everest

Many people succumb to the charm of beckoning wilderness, challenging mountain cliffs, enticing treacherous trails and coaxing unknown paths. The reasons, objectives and experiences may vary from individual to individual but it is amazing to notice that even the fatal incidents and near death experiences do not mitigate their passion to walk the razor sharp edges (sometime literally).Perhaps the excitement to be at the top of the world or exploring the un-traversed paths is difficult to replicate anywhere else and  even more harder is to derive the same joy and contentment from any other pursuit. But thanks to the chronicled words of these mountaineers and trekkers, their armchair counterparts can virtually share at least some part of the thrill.

'Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?', was the question asked to George Millory (an English mountaineer who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest in the early 1920s). To this question, he retorted : 'Because it is there' and these three words have become the most famous words in the world of mountaineering.

Mt. Everest  8,850m (29,035 feet) high lays in Himalayas, along the border of Nepal, Tibet and China. New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Tenzing Norgay were the first people to ever reach the summit of Mount Everest. Since that year, the roof of the Earth - the Sagarmath (the mother Goddess), the Everest keeps beckoning many people year after year.

'Into Thin Air' is the first person account of Jon Karuker who was part of the Mt. Everest expedition of 1996.  He was in a team led by a seasoned climber Rob Hall heading the Adventure Consultants. But despite being well equipped with all required paraphernalia, expert guidance, meticulously planned program, well researched tracks, deftly organised training camps and human assistance in the form of Nepali Sherpas, this expedition completely fell apart.

Closer home, Arjun Vajpai relates his experience vividly in 'On Top of the World'. He became the youngest Indian to scale Mt. Everest in the summer of 2010. For him the fascination of mountains began at the tender age of 10 and his parents nurtured his passion in tandem with the support of his teachers and friends. The hunger and thirst for adventure drew Arjun to the mountains. His is a story of inspiration, grit, determination and indefatigable spirit to fulfill the dreams and his was clearly an expedition where almost everything went right from the fitness, weather conditions to the support system.

'The Top of the World : Climbing Mount Everest' written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins is a picture book for very young readers - Ages 5 and up. The book briefly explores the history, natural geography, culture, climate of Mount Everest along with the mention of people like Mallory and Irvine, Tenzing and Hillary. The formation of Himalayas, the weather conditions and brief introduction to various aspects of scaling Mt. Everest including the gear and training required and the impending threats on the way find the mention in this book. Besides being an informative book, the beautiful cut paper illustrations make it a visual treat for young adventurers.

'Legs on Everest' is written by Mark Inglis, the double amputee who fulfilled his childhood ambition to stand on the summit of the highest mountain of the world. He achieved this feat on 15th May, 2006 braving all odds in the wake of his peculiar condition. The frostbite from one of his previous expeditions costed him both his legs from below the knees but it could not rob him off his dreams rather it made him even more focused and driven to accelerate his efforts towards the goal. In Mark Inglis words, 'Whenever you have pushed yourself to the limit, you know you can achieve things that were once only a dream. The more times you undertake the extreme journey, the greater your confidence that you will attain your dreams, and the bigger your dreams become. And if you want a bigger dream then why not go for the biggest - imagine standing on the summit of Everest!'.

These are not all, there are umpteen books written on the experiences of mountaineers who have dared to climb the crowning glory of the Earth. There are some common strings worth appreciating in all these adventurous stories which tower taller than the uniqueness and differences of the same. Such individuals dare to let their dream soar high, they make their passion fuel their efforts and eventually their determination leads them to achieve the set goals. After having accomplished the designated objective, they find themselves having gained maturity and education from none other than the supreme teacher - the Nature itself. Being in the lap of nature in its purest form, they get to witness its true soul - its nurturing quality and its tempestuous side, its fury and its vulnerability, its unpredictability against human planning. The individuals come out with heightened respect for the supremacy of nature and understanding of the humble position that we share in this precarious balance that has been so beautifully maintained.

Whether it is the - love of wild flora and fauna, desire to redeem oneself, test of self limitations, need to push oneself harder and further, this trend would continue, the epitome of grace Mt Everest would keep seducing mortals year after year. 


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