Torching Everest

It’s interesting how news reaches us, even in today’s world of instant gratification and technological interconnectedness.  Take the recent Everest record-breaking that’s been going on.  I had no idea that before Mr. Sherchan, the oldest man to climb Everest was 71 years old and Japanese.  And while I may have guessed that a Sherpa held the record for the most times to the summit, I wouldn’t have known that the amount of times was 18, until today.  I also would have had no idea that as many as 80 climbers might reach the summit on one of its busiest days.  Just think of it – one of the loneliest, most desolate spots on the face of the Earth, and now it has up to 80 people trudging up and down on it.  In the scale of the mountain, that’s not many, but it’s still many more than I would’ve expected.

Also unexpected, and garnered from this article, was the fact that the Chinese carried the Olympic torch to the summit.  A poetic gesture, I’m sure, but a little ridiculous to my mind.  Why not take it on a space shuttle, or to the moon, since the Chinese have so recently been there, and let it burn in a special case with just enough air on that desolate surface.  Or are the Olympics strictly an Earth-bound exhibition of talent?  And, in protection of the Everest relay, why did the Nepalese government ‘close the mountain’, hoping to bar torch relay protesters?  In addition to the fact that the Chinese relay team accessed Everest from Tibet (which I find highly amusing, under the circumstances), which we can assume the Chinese government would prevent any protesters from accessing, were there really threats of opposition climbing Mount Everest just to thwart torchbearers?  What are they going to do at the summit?  Grab the torch and roll down the mountain?  Throw it off the side in a gesture far from media or any kind of real publicity?  Do we still lived in the crazed, competitive era of man that compelled slightly neurotic men to run off towards the North Pole in order to get there first?  What is this intense need to win we seem to all have, and what are we all really fighting for?  Recognition?  Fame?  Pride?

I would like to see the world strive a bit more, perhaps for the greater good or just for personal ambition, but without trying to rip itself apart at the same time.