“Because it’s there”

“Because it’s there”

Sir Edmund Hillary, on this the 50th anniversary of his ascent of Everest, is rightfully being honored worldwide, most especially in Nepal, where Everest is.

Through the years he has continually and steadily stated that ascents of Everest would not be possible without Sherpas, who weigh about 130-140 pounds and trek up Everest with 75-100 pound packs in dangerous conditions, providing crucial logistical support and expertise. I’ve done 60 pound backpacks in the High Sierras, and lemme tell you, it’s exhausting. I can not comprehend how Sherpas do it.

I think it was Hillary who said “You can’t see a Sherpa when they stand next to you. Then they inhale – and block the horizon”.

Hillary has devoted much of his life to helping Sherpas; aiding in bringing hospitals, schools, building bridges, and has done so with little publicity. I’ve always felt he did this simply because they were his friends and he wanted to help.

A while back I heard Jamling Norgay speak. He’s the son of Tensing Norgay, the Sherpa who accompanied Hillary to the top. He showed photos of them the day of the final ascent. Their tents were canvas, the kind that when it rains and you touch the canvas, the tent leaks. They wore huge weighty boots and were each carrying fifty pounds of oxygen. A few hours later, they summitted Everest and the planet cheered.

PS. Another mountaineer (whose name I momentarily forget) says, “You don’t conquer Everest. You sort of sneak up on it, then get the hell down”.