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Onto the Mountains -The craft of Mountaineering.

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Published on June 09, 2019 with No Comments

The writer is working as a senior DSP in Punjab Police and has done Masters in Police administration as well as Masters in Psychology. Apart from his professional police duties, he undertakes social work as well as writes for various newspapers and magazines in India to spread information and awareness amongst the masses about the current issues. He has also authored a book, “NEW INDIA

“In the mountains, you are sometimes invited, sometimes tolerated and sometimes told to go home.” – Fred Beckey, Challenge of the North Cascades.

Mountains and mountaineering have always fascinated human race since times immemorial. History of mankind is witness to the fact that many courageous men and women have tried their luck and tested their bravery, grit and determination on various mountains or peaks across the planet earth.
Sometimes people in society tend to ask and enquire inquisitively about the reason as to why do the mountaineers do the summits. Well, the answer lies in explaining it but in experiencing it. Nobody has put it more aptly than Greg Child when he exclaimed, “Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.”
Any mountaineer of the world will agree to the fact that when we climb any mountain, it is akin to a mystical and spiritual journey of self-exploration and connecting directly with the powerful forces of nature in it’s raw, unadulterated form. The kind of discipline, dedication and determination needed for mountaineering reflects a deep mixture of ingredients resembling scientific temper and human emotions at its zenith. Proper training with equipments and methods of climbing is as much necessary for becoming a successful mountaineer as a specialized professional degree is required for becoming a doctor or engineer.

 Every mountaineer dreams of climbing to the top of the Earth’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, standing gigantically tall at the height of 29,002 feet above the sea level ( 8848 metres ).  There are other mountains also which are highly respected amongst the mountaineering fraternity. The popular notion of 7 summits has become a kind of mountaineering goal for the professional climbers and idea of 7 summits represents the highest points ( peaks of the mountain ranges ) on the 7 continents. These include Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson Massif and Carstensz Pyramid. Amongst these, Mount Everest, also known and worshipped as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Chomolungma in Tibet ( both names translating into English as – “Goddess Mother of the World” ), is actually a dream fantasy of every mountaineer and commands huge respect, applause and admiration. Every year, the Nepal government gives permit to hundreds of spirited mountaineers from across a plethora of countries to fulfill their dream of climbing to the world’s top mountain peak. Many of them are able to complete their Everest summit in a successful manner. However, there are also many others who unfortunately die in their attempt to climb the Everest.

“On life and peaks it is the same. With strength we win the grail, but courage is the thing we need to face the downward trail.”- Jacob Clifford Moomaw. The craze for Everest summit has already consumed more than 300 lives ever since the peak was climbed by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953. However, not many know that before them, the first man who came close to doing the summit on Everest was the late Indian Army officer, Lt Col EF Norton, DSO, Royal Horse Artillery. But the valiant effort had to be aborted when his companion, Dr Somervell, dropped out on account of an acute throat inflammation and bleeding. Norton persevered alone for over an hour before taking the hard decision and wisely turning his back on Everest. Seen against the current backdrop, the moot question is that how many mountaineers of present generation are able to take such wise and difficult decisions.
The year 2019 has become particularly deadly as far as the expedition to Mount Everest is concerned as around 11 people have lost their lives. The reasons include personal exhaustion, dehydration and besides these, many newspapers have also reportedly shared that the Everest has become highly crowded and suffers from unexpectedly long traffic jams. The pictures which surfaced showed almost dozens of climbers stuck up in a traffic line at the world’s highest peak in totally inhospitable terrain. Many people have blamed the traffic congestion as well as some have put the blame on the Nepal government for its alleged failure to control and regulate the number of mountaineers who have been issued climbing permit this year. On the surface, if such allegations are true, then, the Nepal authorities ought to devise and immediately put in place a new system whereby the permits for climbing the Everest are granted only to the experienced certified climbers with a professional, technical experience. The world’s highest peak is obviously not a playful excursion area and thus, not meant for novice adrenaline-rush climbers who cannot even properly explain the difference between hiking, backpacking, trekking and professional mountaineering. No doubt, the lucrative Everest expeditions are a money-changer game for the Nepal government treasury, but it is also essential to safeguard the beauty and pristine natural jewel of Mount Everest. In the past, it has been seen that many climbers have shown little regards or attention towards the ecological damage they are doing in their Everest quests as heaps of trash and human waste has been accumulating at the world’s highest peak. What is the use of climbing the Everest top if we cannot mend our basic ground-zero habits and become better human beings.

The Mount Everest is not a cakewalk or an adventure place to be visited for satisfying one’s ego. The word’s highest peak is unforgiving in nature and gives no second chances to those who are adamant in their egoistic quest to conquer it. Only a properly trained and disciplined mountaineer who knows the science and art of climbing should be allowed and given the permit by the Nepal government to attempt climbing the Everest. The white jewel of planet Earth cannot be allowed to be wasted away by immature and unprofessional climbers. We have to respect and worship the mountains and not treat them as our playful backyards. Before we proudly declare to the world that “the mountains are calling and I must go”, we need to ask ourselves the most important question – AM I READY ? Indeed, Sir Edmund Hillary was right when he had remarked, “It is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves.”


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