Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Battle for Everest

The Battle for Everest came about after reading a book on Nepal and the many beautiful destination it has for mountaineering and trekking by the Eco tourism company Lonely Planet. I being a freelance content writer have been able to put pen to paper to writer my thoughts on this topic which has been haunting me for some time now, but here am I now and I hope I do justice to this piece.

Like all of man’s endearments, conquering different physical feats which the earth had thrown against become paramount once he transcended the frontiers of the earth. The Himalayan range had always been a barrier between human civilization, not only for the moment of mankind but also for certain geographically conditions as well. It housed some of the highest mountain ranges in the world.

Those who could brave the harsh conditions though the passes were able to carry snippets of one’s civilization advancement in secrets to the next. But, that remain that, until the Europeans powers supposedly believed that they were given the God given rights to colonise the lesser civilized people of the world and the mightiest of them all turned out to be the British.

It was at this junction of time that what is now known as Mount Everest become known to the rest of the world which had all along had be revered by the locals, Sherpas as Chomolungma and by people of the country it fell in as Sagarmatha that means in English; the mother of the massive rivers, according to my wife who is a Nepalese. The Chinese who lived to the north of it called it, Qomolangma Feng. I do not know for what apparent reason. But, for the world it is Everest, named after the man who broke this highest point to the rest of the world for which he was also accolade the title “Sir” by the Monarch of Britain.

Once the news reached the rest of the world, it was a mad rust to get to the top and the be the first on the pinnacles of the world. Initially and sadly, Mount Everest was closed for business to the rest of the world. All clandestine means were used to perch on the small piece on this 8848 metre peak.

The first attempt was made from the Tibetan side by George Leigh Mallory who came from the Darjeeling side of India but retreated believing this mountain was impossible to climb. It was only in the year 1922, that any attempt was made to scale this gigantic peak but continued until 1950 without much success.

It is believed that George Mallory and Andrew Irvine did not give up hope and scaled it but did not return with proof if they did so as they perished in vein and their bodies have not been recovered till date with the rudimentary camera they were carrying to tell the truth. If they did too, then a conquering hero should live to bask in the glory of his deeds.

1933 did not allow the British expedition team to touch the summit, they fell short of it by 275 metres but the British did not give up hope and produced spectacular photographs of the peak which was an achievement then and also gave them the advantage to other countries.

A couple of years later, Maurice Wilson believing that eating little would give him the fame so it attempted it from the Tibetan side after having flown in a small plane and he never lived to tell the tale. It was just a futile attempt. Then there was Eric Shipton in 1935 who had the famed porter Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa in his team. It was in HW Tilman’s expedition in 1938 that Eric Shipton reached 8300 metres.

It was in 1947 that Earl Denman, a Canadian, disguised a Tibetan Monk make a solo but quit below the North Col. What a mad hatter he must have been to try without oxygen!

Sadly after the war the Tibetan side was closed for business and now all was left to Nepal, but it too did not like the foreigners, who they believed had nefarious plans not only to humiliate the revered object of the sky but also to colonise them, just as they had done to their southerly brothers.

But the few who did get the permission, one of which was Tilman, made sad attempts, starting from Dharan where he and his team view Everest from Kallapatar, other parts to the Khumbu region and Gokyo Ri. It was only in 1051 that K Becker-Larson, a Dane who found the formula for the conquest of Everest after having travelled on foot from Namche Bazaar toward the Tibetan side of the North Col and returning to tell about it.

The British believed Everest to be their mountain for having letting it be known to the rest of the world and so if any one was to have the glory of being the first, it would be their nationals only. So rightly believed as it was Sir Edmond Hillary and the famed Sherpa porter, Tenzin Norgay who gave him the impetuous to reach the summit. Who reach the summit is a matter of controversy but I believe joined credit should be given to both. They were a part of the British team of Eric Shipton. The Swiss of the Alpine club famed for the Alpine climbs and being skilled mountaineers tried some years before them but not proving their worth. Finally Everest was conquered by a British National and a Sherpa on 29th May’ 1953.

Sir Edmond Hillary as a matter of gratitude for the accolade that the people of Khumbu gave to him and the neglect of the government the country they lived in, made it his business to take the Sherpa tribe out of the derelict condition their lived in by going about on his next conquest of human needs.

Presently, every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to climb Everest which has had a consequence on the surrounding fragile eco-system. I believe money is not everything. I sincerely ask the Sherpa people who are the guardians of this region who for the past four hundred years or so to see to this.

Steven William Pitts

A freelance content writer    

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