All my mountaineering books have been read, and in some cases, re-read. Among others, I had got both "The Shining Mountain" by Peter Boardman, about his and Joe Tasker's climb of Changabang, and a Chris Bonington "Everest, the Unclimbed Ridge."
I hadn't realised till I read the Everest book that this was the climb on which those two young men died. It was quite a shock as I had got to know them during the Changabang climb - they pulled me and my armchair all the way to the top. A noble effort on their part.
Then they went for the more difficult side of Everest with no oxygen, and no support really. The same climb I think that Alison Hargreaves did just before she died on K2. There is a chapter in the Bonington book called "They walked out of our lives".
And so they did.
They set off for the summit, just the two of them. They were seen climbing for the next two days, and last seen at sunset, immediately below the second pinnacle. And then nothing. Silence. Until Peter Boardman's body was found, 10 years later, on the ridge. So they hadn't fallen. Or at least, he hadn't. It is as if he went to sleep that night and never woke up. But why? And what happened to Joe Tasker?
I have been thinking and wondering about it since. Why do climbers do it, push themselves and push themselves, until... Clearly neither of of them wanted to die. Does it become an addiction? Or is it that they feel the futility of the present system of things more than most, and the life and death situation of mountaineering puts the meaning back in, at least for the moments of the climb?
“The eager expectation of the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now.”—Romans 8:19-22.
If so, then I wish they had known that the way to put the meaning back into our lives is to seek for our Creator, Jehovah, the God of Abraham, and find him.
The other thing I have been wondering is if - IF - I am in the restored earthly Paradise, and if Jehovah remembers Peter and Joe and wakes them up - it will be an "undeserved kindness" in all our cases, children of Adam as we are - so, IF, would it be alright to ask them what happened? Or not.
The last few days have been very quiet for me. I listened in to the Meeting this morning on the telephone line We chatted with The Roger on Skype. More cards came. Realising nothing has been dusted for 3 weeks, I started dusting things.