I just finished with the book ” Into the thin air”. I was willing to read some good stuff on mountaineering and mountains for a long time. While selecting this book, I did not pay much attention to the reviews and ratings, somehow the title of the book hit the chords.
Certainly, high altitude climbing is much more about the struggle of human survival against the diminishing oxygen. Every materialistic desire at the pinnacle seems futile. I wonder about this amazing feeling which is attained after bearing all the physical and mental breakage and sometimes even risking lives. It is appalling to read that towards the summit of Mt. Everest, climbers find the scattered human bodies, which will continue to mark their presence till the death of the universe. Perhaps there is no second chance to rectify the mistakes at a height of more than 28000 ft. It feels terrifying to continue with a journey that might ends up with some known fate. One starts a journey with twelve , and ends up with four ; but still the zest for conquering the summit is alive and the ascent continues. I guess this fearless attitude is only vital to mark the beginning of the ascent. But being fearless is not the only tool; there are some of the most brutal prices which one must pay to claim the presence on the highest point of Earth. Sometimes mountaineers make the toughest decision of leaving the living bodies alone on those heights, the bodies which are trapped under snow and just marking the presence of few signs of life. At such situations, it become necessary to negotiate the quantity of human lives which could be saved at the risk of just one. It seems cruel to leave someone to get killed just because at the cost of one, many other lives could be saved! But it is heart wrenching to imagine someone in that brutal and helpless situation. I guess these are all the prices which need to be paid to conquer the zenith because nothing comes without price. Watching our own body parts getting paralyzed and unresponsive are something which cannot be explained in writings but these are the emotional struggles for which these warriors are also well prepared.
“I conquered Everest not through my feet but through my brain” – I heard this from one of the best mountaineers in the history and it is so true. It is not only the struggle against physical potential but more about the struggle against mental strength. While reading this book, I cannot figure out the thin line between obsession and passion, for the mountains. I guess that such line doesn’t exist at those heights. It just vanishes .
It is so inspiring to know about the mountaineers who claim the highest summits on the Earth. I believe it teaches everything, right from the leadership and team building skills to never – say – die attitude.
So let’s conquer those peaks and master our own fear.