Now, as much as I love to rail on human hubris and one of its greatest adjuncts — the ridiculousness of climbing mountains —, what became really, painfully obvious is just how low we’re willing to stoop to elevate ourselves.
Everest is an uninhabitable rock spearing 5-1/2 miles into the sky, unapproachable except by those wishing to prove something — what exactly, I have no idea.
Yes, I’m poo-poohing all that indomitable human spirit stuff I usually love to get all weepy over, but what has climbing Everest ever done? Even George Mallory, the first to attempt a summit of the peak in 1924, when asked why, only gave this smarmy, mock-heroic retort: “Because it’s there.” Mallory promptly died on Everest’s treacherous North Face.
Now, getting up Everest is a pleasure cruise.
Every weekend warrior with a few oxygen tanks and a fur-lined parka can do it now.
They may as well build a gold-plated elevator straight to the top.
And, as usually happens with our throwaway society when something becomes easy, we treat it like a dumping ground because, hell, why worry about some snow- and wind-blasted rock everybody can now climb?
It’s not surprising. We’ve polluted pristine rivers, turned the rain to acid and are, at this very moment having a debate about whether to build an oil pipeline over the world’s largest underground water source, right here in our own Nebraska backyard.
All this in the interest of economy, of proliferation, of pride — the belief that we humans have got it all figured out and are headed straight to the top, by any route necessary.
We can’t even take good care of the life-giving parts of this planet. What should Mount Everest expect?