Sunday, September 04, 2011

At the roof of the world, in my (tochs') mind

Originally posted June 2003

From your posts, Everest interests you. Which is your favourite so far? BBC featured their version of the 50th Anniversary which I caught on BBC news last Sunday 1 June 2003 at 5 PM. True to a BBC production, it is well documented and thought provoking. Earlier, National Geographic and Discovery Channel aired their own specials commemorating the first step on the roof of the world 50 years after 29 May 1953. Watching several points of view of the various TV docus, I picked up some lines which have been repeatedly said in other versions.

The more I hear of the line "it was Hillary who planned it out as a mountaineer and Tenzing was just that, “a guide”, the more I am convinced that Tenzing really was the first mortal to step on Everest. I have been researching on the cause of his death but the closest I got was he died in India in 1983. It must have been the remorse of the burden of truth that put a pressure on him. Sir Edmund had his share of misfortune. It was tragic to lose his wife and daughter in same range that made him a knight in 1975.

When I repeatedly catch the thought, "the only common times with these guys were the ten minutes they were together on the summit," the more I am intrigued, "what did the majestic mountain do to them?"

Just for this year, let me list quotes I could relate to honouring our own accomplishments with our tropical climbs here.

Q: What words would you use to describe your feelings about Mount Everest?
A: Alive, humbling, unpredictable, exhilarating, empowering.

Q: What words would you use to describe your feelings about the Sherpa people?
A: Hardworking, joyous, loyal, thoughtful, my dearest friends.
-Liesl Clark writer/ producer/director on the filming of Dark Side of Everest

Larawan ni Rico kasama si Sir Edmund
Lorraine: Explain to me a sherpa's approach to mountain climbing compare to how we see it from the west?
Jamling: The mountains have been there the whole time. Sherpa's see the mountain all the time but we never have interest to climb these mountains. It was only when the British and the foreign expeditions started to climb these mountains that the sherpa started to become involved in climbing because it is a way of living for them. And for most of the sherpas, climbing is the bread and butter, lots of them have lost their lives. We don't climb for pleasure at all. We believe most of the mountain is sacred to us. For example, Mount Everest, we called it ''Chomolungma'' which is mother god-ness of the world. And ''Miyolangsangma'' is the deity that resides on Everest so we pray to her all the time. We pray to many of the other mountains surrounding, you know in the Himalayas...

Lorraine: Jamling, would you ever consider stopping mountain climbing, getting a regular job somewhere?
Jamling: I don't think so; I mean I don't see myself sitting in office 9 to 5 at all. And I just enjoy being in the outdoors, climbing mountains. I have stopped climbing Everest but smaller mountains I still continue to climb. Just like being in mountains... it makes me feel so nice, it makes me feel really alive and it makes you feel how small we are in this world, how fresh we humans are. It's great feeling just being up in the mountains.
- CNN's Lorraine Hahn interviews Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of Tenzing

I think the expeditionary experience of climbing Everest, of surviving it, has changed our lives. To push yourself to within a wisp of life itself and return to the world in the valleys below is to see life in its raw immediacy and in its essential components.

For me to receive a hearty congratulations from Jamling Tenzing Norgay was the true finale. Our two families have been transformed by this mountain.

The mountain has given us a hard-won opportunity to rise above ourselves and to play the lottery of surviving the experience. Just as it has done for the Sherpa people who live around its lofty base. And veteran climber Ang Norbu of Pangboche Village says that despite his frostbitten fingers, "the mountain is a jewel. It is a gift".

-Peter Hillary on climbing Everest for the National Geographic Documentary Sons of Everest 50 years (actually 49) before his father Edmund first reached the summit

The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?' and my answer must at once be, 'It is no use'. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It's no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.
-George Leigh Mallory, 1922

Because it is there.
-George Mallory (1886-1924), answer to the question 'Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?'

I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life.
-Tenzing Norgay

Well, we knocked the bastard off!
-Edmund Hillary, on first climbing Mount Everest

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