As I mentioned in my Everest wrap-up post yesterday, the season may be over but the analysis and speculation continues, particularly in the mainstream press and those that are outside of the climbing community. Earlier today British climber Mark Horrell, who recently summited the mountain on the North Side, wrote a very thoughtful and interesting piece in which he addresses five common myths about Everest that the media tends to perpetuate. I found it to be a good read and I thought you would as well.
In the article Mark discusses his experiences on Everest this past season and his thoughts on traffic jams, the challenges of the climb and sensationalist journalism. He then proceeds to discuss some of the things that journalists who are not climbers continually get wrong when they write about Everest. For example, because of the fact that more than 500 people topped out this year there is a common belief amongst media types that climbing the world’s tallest peak is no longer difficult. This is of course not the experience of those that are there and as Mark points out from his own experience, it was anything but easy. He notes that his summit push took six days, and on Summit Day itself he climbed for 18 hours round trip. He says on most days he would arrive at camp and immediately get sick. He lived on very little food, as his appetite was destroyed be altitude, and dehydration dogged him much of the way. Fortunately he did not have to deal with bad weather, as he mentions that many times climbers are also going up in extremely cold conditions on top of the physical ailments they are dealing with.
Other topics that Mark discusses include whether or not someone climbs the mountain as part of their “bucket list,” whether or not traffic jams played into the deaths this year and if walking past a struggling climber shows a lack of compassion.
As I said, it’s a very interesting read. I’ve been planning a similar piece for Gadling.com, as the crowd there is much more mainstream and has a different view of climbing than we do here. I’ll probably write that piece next week, but Mark has managed to put into words much of what I’ve been feeling on the subject as well.