Real Bravery Is Not Climbing Everest

Institutionalized mountain detaches hikers from risk: Freddie Wilkinson
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2012 12:13 PM CDT
Real Bravery Is Not Climbing Everest
In this Oct. 27, 2011 file photo, the last light of the day sets on Mount Everest as it rises behind Mount Nuptse as seen from Tengboche, in the Himalaya's Khumbu region, Nepal.   (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)

We're in Everest peak season, and that means we'll probably hear much about the triumphs and tragedies on the mountain. But the "shrewdest and most independent decision of the season" came from Russell Brice, owner of Himalayan Experience, who cancelled his entire season because he thought conditions were too dangerous, writes veteran climber Freddie Wilkinson in the New York Times. Mountain climbing is supposed to be about "shrewd and independent decision making," but at Everest it increasingly isn't.

Thanks to Everest's overwhelming popularity, the trail is "institutionally maintained," clearly marked by miles of rope. "A vast majority of climbers simply start at the bottom of the mountain and go where the ropes lead them," Wilkinson laments. But the trek isn't as safe as it looks; dry conditions this year have led to a host of avalanches and ice falls. No skill can protect you from those disasters. "Mountaineers have one final option … They can choose not to be there in the first place." Click for Wilkinson's full piece. (More Mount Everest stories.)

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