Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Everest Mountaineering: Return to the deathtrap or not? Nat Geo covers the 2012 spring climbing season

     I've heard recently that Neil Beidleman's returned to Everest this year in order to put the '96 trauma to rest.  ABC is covering this news right now, and Nat Geo is covering climbing the mountain as well.   
     From going back to Everest, it's evident that Beidleman still thinks about his original trip up the mountain.  He said, "I did as much as I could. And it took me quite a while to really appreciate that," when he thinks about what happened on Everest.  One example of his actions is outlined in Into Thin Air, as Krakauer states "While Boukreev remained behind at Camp Four to wait for Fischer, Beidleman herded his group slowly down from the Col."  He's working around the clock to help the climbers get down the mountain safely, and has to attend to Pittman for a while.  "At 25,000 feet he paused to give Pittman another injection... and then everyone stopped for a long time at Camp Three to rest and rehydrate."  He's taking care of Pittman and everyone else heading down the mountain again, as he "willed himself to stay alert for a sign that the storm might be blowing itself out," in the novel.  He wanted to return to the mountain for a reason shown in this quote: "Had he left part of himself on that massive peak? Perhaps to truly come down he would have to go up once more."  This agrees with why I think he has to return.  He also stated that "I wanted to go back, in some ways, just to physically lay over the rationalization that I had in my own mind that that was all I could do-- to re-experience it again, and to fully experience what we experienced under those conditions."
   Neil did everything he could to save his friends on Everest in 1996, from forcing the group on to pretty much carrying Pittman partway down the mountain.  I think it's wonderful that Beidleman has the courage to return to the place where many of his friends--temporary friends or not--died in a freak storm.  He probably wants to return in order to obtain a sense of closure.  By returning to a place filled with loss, he might be able to fill the void created by the loss of his friends.  That's a good thing for him to do so that he doesn't dwell on the experience for the rest of his life.
   I don't think that I would be able to return to Mt. Everest if that happened to me.  It would be pretty easy to avoid Everest, I mean it's in another country for crying out loud, and unless you really are prepared to go and climb Everest again, I wouldn't dare try. I think it's really amazing that there's a team going up Everest from the West Ridge.  They're constantly sending photos and information to help us that can't afford such a trip 'climb' the mountain.  It's a really incredible opportunity for the less daring to see the mountain up close and personal.

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