Many of my friends from years gone by were convinced for the longest time that I would make a journey to Nepal to attempt to climb Mt. Everest. At 29.035 feet, 8,850 meters, Mt. Everest is the tallest of the mountain peaks on earth. I must say that the possibility of such an adventure has always had a certain allure for me. And it, at this time of the year (Late May is the optimal time to climb Everest), my focus is pulled towards the mountaineers who are at camp 4 and who are poised to make the final push to the summit. I would have loved to be with them but it was not possible for many reasons. Cost, time, and a high rate of death conspired to make sure that I never went. It is curious, now, to see, over the past ten years the number of attempts grow and the tragedy’s continuing to increase. With ease of access to money and equipment, and Everest on many a bucket list the overall number of people attempting to summit has increased – which means that there are way too many inexperienced climbers on the mountain.
While there have been hundreds of successful summits, in 2013, there have been seven deaths so far this year. As CNN has covered the story they report traffic jams on the mountain and conditions not conducive to a successful summit attempt. And as I reflect on the expectation of me and the thoughtful decision not to attempt to climb I am struck by how THPL contemplates challenge and risk and return.
A person living the THPL life style would be a likely candidate to want to climb Everest and I think that the initial consideration of such an adventure is a very good thing. The caveat is that THPL, requires that we combine all elements of Life, Learning and Fitness to make decisions on how to live our lives. And so it might be that the risks are modest. And if this is the case then by all means we (or you) should contemplate making the attempt to summit Everest. But it is really important that we not let the hubris of the idea drive bad decisions. On years like 2013, when the volume of people on the mountain increases the risk, then one needs to think carefully if this is indeed part of the overall risk profile that I want to put myself into? While we can make a best effort to avoid bad weather on Everest you can almost never mitigate the risk that others can bring to you. And from this vantage point discretion beats valor and THPL carries on, more informed, and more understanding of the choices that one has to make and the power that comes from making the right decision.
Loving life at “sea level: