I've been climbing Everest again - and this time by the Northerly route, which believe you me is more difficult than the Southerly route. It requires more technical climbing for a start.
Well, no, i haven't actually been there. Not as such. Not with my knees. I am still waiting for the Stannah Stairlift Expedition, but I don't think they've installed one yet. It would seem to be only a matter of time though.
And i have to think that is the only way anyone should go up there. Life is too precious. And look what all this climbing is doing to a beautiful mountain.
I have been reading Matt Dickinson's "The Death Zone". And in it he says, of arriving at Camp 5: "I began to notice the squalor our tents are pitched amongst. The platform was littered with the shredded remains of abandoned tents, with strips of fabric blowing in the wind. Pieces of rope, half buried sachets of food and remnants of clothing were embedded in almost every inch of ice. Sharp metal snow stakes were sticking out at crazy angles, attached to lines which went nowhere. Large areas of ice were stained yellow from urine, and frozen faeces were abundantly scattered around."
And bodies of dead climbers lie in the high mountain too, unburied.
Who could bury them, or bring them down again? Once you are in the death zone, there is no guarantee you can get yourself back down alive, let alone anyone else. This is not a place where we should be.
Matt Dickinson can climb and he can write. He was there in the year of the calamitous storm, the year that John Krakauer wrote about in "Into Thin Air". But of course Matt and his companions were climbing the other side of the mountain. And yesterday I climbed it with them.
I knew that 3 Indian climbers and an Austrian had died on the North face in that storm, and this book tells something of their story. There was a Japanese team on the mountain who apparently climbed right past the dying Indians and didn't stop or make any attempt to help them. However, it does seem from Matt's account that there was nothing they could have done to save them. They were all too high up.
Wasn't it Rob Hall's wife who said that expecting to be rescued from the summit of Everest was like expecting to be rescued from the surface of the Moon?
And of course her husband, and the New Zealand guide, Andy Harris, did try. They were on the other side of the mountain when this happened, and, caught by the storm, they stayed with their client, Doug Hansen, and tried to get him back down to safety. But they couldn't save him, and they all died. And their bodies too lie unburied on the high mountain.
Should any of them have been there? However I know Jehovah will not forget the love they showed for each other, and I hope he will wake them up when the time comes - all those dead climbers. Then our lives will be so full of meaning and so full of joy that there will no need for dangerous adventuring.
And Everest will be clean and perfect again.