I was scanning the New York Times online this morning and came across this story. It caught my attention because it reminded me of Into Thin Air, the book by Jon Krakauer of the 1996 disaster on Everest, which led me to think about my favorite podcast ever, The Rest of Everest by Jon Miller. Jon tells the story of Ben Clark, who was attempting to be the youngest American to summit Everest. I won't reveal how it came out, but the podcast is great! Jon went on the climb with Ben (he didn't make the full climb - Jon stayed at Base Camp most of the time, venturing up to the higher camps a few times) and they made a documentary of the adventure called Everest: The Other Side which Jon was kind enough to send to me. The documentary was aired on Dish Network. I use the documentary in my classroom when we read the "Into Thin Air" excerpt in my class. Ben's story is a wonderful story about setting your goals and doing what you have to do to reach them. So much more than a mountain climbing story and such a totally different look at Everest than was portrayed in Krakauer's book!
Looking at the photo of this mountain, I still can't fathom what makes a person say "Hey! I want to climb that!" I am terrified of heights, I hate cold weather, and I hate grueling exercise. So, this is obviously not for me. My students often ask me why someone would want to put their life in such jeopardy. As Ben Clark said, "The depth of the experience will always be greater than the height of the summit." From watching Jon's documentary, it is obvious there is a lot of camaradarie in mountain climbing - it's a real community of climbers up there. In fact, at the end of that documentary and especially the podcast, I felt like I knew those people myself.
Take a few minutes and check out Jon's site, linked above, and especially watch his podcast if you can. Even if you aren't an "Everest person" it's a great look at the culture of Nepal and Tibet, and you will learn something. The photography is over-the-top beautiful.
Photo credit: European Pressphoto Agency