Stop It Already!

Do you know what I’m tired of? Mountain climbers. As a group I’m becoming more and more convinced that they are a bunch of egotistical, selfish jackasses. Yes, I know the country was gripped by the frantic search on Mt. Hood for the three lost climbers. That is exactly what my problem with mountain climbers is. Mountain climbing is a hobby right? No one makes their living climbing mountains right? Mountain climbing is an optional activity. But people do make their living rescuing mountain climbers, and sometimes the rescuers are risking their own lives to save an idiot who wasn’t smart enough to stay the hell off of a mountain in the middle of winter. If your hobby risks your own life, fine, enjoy yourself. If your screw up of an entirely optional activity could result in the death of others, then you need to either quit that activity, or leave a waiver form with someone at the bottom of the mountain absolving anyone of any responsibility for rescuing you when you screw it up. And why go in the winter? If I’m going to climb a mountain I’m waiting until it’s as warm as possible. There is absolutely no need to maximize the risk by going in the middle of winter.

Mt. Everest is the worst example of this. Over 50 people have died on Mt. Everest this year. Why? I just don’t see the thrill. It may be the highest mountain in the world, but it’s been climbed hundreds of times now. There is no longer any sort of exclusive club of people who have climbed Everest. The sherpas that guide expeditions go up and down that mountain daily. They might as well be herding people onto Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disney World. Virtually every mountain in the world has been climbed many, many times. Why go? The view? Is any view worth risking your life for? If you pick the wrong day to climb it just might be the last view you see. Of course I’m told that the view from heaven is spectacular, but that doesn’t mean I want to climb up there today.

I do not feel badly for the climbers who perish on their climbs. I do feel badly for the people who risk their lives and probably occasionally lose fingers and toes to frostbite while rescuing lost climbers. I also feel badly for the climbers families. One of the climbers family members said, “He died doing what he loved.” Apparently he loved it more than his family because now they have to spend the holidays grieving for him because of his hobby. If you have a single person in this world related to you or who cares about you, why would you risk your life for just a nice view, leaving your family behind to suffer the waiting, worrying and loss? Climbers, quit being selfish. Take up ballroom dancing or something. At least there you’d have a chance to meet women.

15 responses to “Stop It Already!

  1. I guess the same could be said for any of those extreme sports. Who knows what pushes those people on. But you’re quite right about the fact that if you have a family, maybe you should think twice. Mr.Jazz lost a colleague that way, he and a group of people climbed a mountain then decided to kayak down a river in BC I think it was. ‘Cept it was a crazy ass river, which most people go over in a helicopter first. They didn’t. They disappeared. And his wife, who was pregnant at the time with their second child couldn’t even get the insurance, since there was no body. Nice of him.

  2. I can understand your feelings, I truly can. Until I moved to Seattle, I too would shake my head in disbelief over things like lost climbers or Stupid People who decide to take wintery mountain roads then get stuck in the snow and die. Likewise for fishing boats that go out in 25 foot swells and then toss the occupants into the freezing water. You chose to place yourself into these circumstances, don’t be surprised when the elements barf on you. Then I moved here and began to get to know people who climbed Rainier and Hood and Baker. The Pacific Northwest has a passionate love affair with nature, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s truly a location thing – until you’re here, you can’t grok it.People literally cried when it was announced that Kelly was found dead. The S&R teams are refusing to call their continued treks to Hood a recovery mission but still a search. It’s really an amazing thing, these teams. They are all volunteers and do it because they understand the love and passion that these people have for being a part of nature. I had the fortunate experience of working with a man who volunteered in a S&R team to find lost hikers. I asked him why they did it and he said it was because he cared. But more than that, it becomes a man-vs-nature thing. I’ve got a fear of being lost in the woods so I rarely go hiking but in my few forays, I do understand how easily you can get lost…and more importantly, why one has this desire to go exploring.I believe the two guys still on Hood are dead. Most share my opinion at this point. But like in the military where they try to never leave a man behind, there is an urgent need to find these guys. Coming on the heels of the Kim family, it seems to be even more urgent.And I gotta tell you, it’s nice to live in a place that has such a high regard for life. Watching the crews that found James Kim weeping shows that. To know that if something befell me, there are people who care so much that they would risk everything to try to come find me.

  3. Amen! I feel the same way about people who do anything that is unnatural, like scuba diving, flying their own planes…I mean, seriously. There are places we don’t belong. So, stop going to those places to show how exceptional a human being you are. If you die, it’s on you.-N

  4. i’m glad i wasn’t the only one having these thoughts recently. i felt a tad guilty.

  5. Jazz- Exactly. I would love nothing more than to skydive at least once, but Mrs. Phil keeps reminding me that I have a family to think about.MaryBeth- You said people in the northwest love nature. Apparently they love it more than their families. I love nature too and I’ve climbed my share of the Adirondack mountains here in NY, but I’ve climbed them in the summer. These mountains probably aren’t nearly as difficult as Rainier and Hood and I wouldn’t consider it in the winter. When it’s man versus nature I recognize that nature is much larger than I am.

  6. Natalia- Thank you for agreeing. You are wise beyond your years.Say Rah!- No need for guilt. We didn’t leave our families behind to pursue a very costly thrill.

  7. I absolutely agree.Being brave isn’t ‘conquering’ the mountian in winter…the Brave are those who have to go up and drag your frozen body down.I love nature too, being from the pacific northwest as I am. But I respect it’s power more. And I love my family.Tai

  8. Oh man!I had a long and heartfelt post for you Phil, but it’s vanished.Enough to say I agree with you.

  9. I was going to climb Mt. Everest, but now you have talked me out of it. Thanks.

  10. Oh man!I had a long and heartfelt post for you Phil, but it’s vanished.Enough to say I agree with you.

  11. I absolutely agree.Being brave isn’t ‘conquering’ the mountian in winter…the Brave are those who have to go up and drag your frozen body down.I love nature too, being from the pacific northwest as I am. But I respect it’s power more. And I love my family.

  12. Gary- Thanks, I’m glad I saved your life. I expect at least a thank you card. And don’t forget to mention this when I’m running for President.Tai- What can I say? You’re brilliant.

  13. I have a problem going up to the 40th floor in an elevator. There’s something creepy about being in a little box that is zipping up inside a building, and you feel like you’re standing still, but you’re really rocketing up. I can’t imagine anyone climbing a mountain for fun, especially in winter. That storm we had here in the Pacific Northwest last week was a monster and it probably blew those poor unfortunate folks right off the mountain. I wonder how much they loved it when that was happening.

  14. Reminds of those dickheads..Tony Bullimore and Isobel Autissier, who were rescued by the Australian tax payer in Australian waters. These morons were sailing solo around the world…Bullimore an Englishman and Austissier a French woman. Both have been rescued twice in seperate incidents, and expected other countries to foot the bill. Then both went on to profit greatly by book deals and interviews. Bullimore is doing it again, i hope they let him drown if gets into trouble here again!

  15. I wholeheartedly agree with you, Phil, and I automatically thought of the sampe people Michelle mentioned … fools, all of them !!Hope you have a very Merry Christmas. Take care, Meow

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