This is the ultimate mountain, the nearest we can come to the heavens while keeping our feet firmly planted on the earth. Created 50 million years ago when India crashed into the Eurasian Plate, it is still growing. Yes, at 29,0235 feet above sea level (measured in 1953) it is still growing!
Since 1852, when it was first identified as the world's highest mountain, there have been those who were obsessed with the idea of standing on its summit. In 1921 the forbidden kingdom of Tibet opened its borders to outsiders so climbing became possible, and in 1924 George Mallory and Andrew Irvine lost their lives in what may have been a successful climb. But not until 1953 was there a recorded success by Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay.
As you will learn later, travel is the ultimate variety for me. So would my ultimate trip be one to Earth's highest mountain? The "ultimate ultimate". Probably not.
For me travel is about discovery and growth, delight in the unknown and unexpected, and the pleasure of seeing things through the eyes of those I meet along the way. I think a trip even to the foot of that mountain would be all about perseverance and endurance. I might not even make it that far. It's true that I would experience all the joys of travel I just listed, but it's a trip I would not anticipate with pleasure. Why? What is the difference?
Perhaps the difference is the focus. Everest would always be the focus - before, during and after the trip. The focus would be intense, leaving room for little else and thereby narrowing my world-view. That's just a guess, but the idea seems to run contrary to the excitement I feel when I set out on an adventure. I feel relaxed, eager for whatever comes, savoring the lack of a plan. And that is the opposite of a life-threatening trip up the mountain which must be thoroughly planned and rehearsed. I'll enjoy pictures and fascinating prose!
So what does draw people to make the journey or even the climb part-way up to Base Camp? Some are adventurers and this is a unique experience. Some are forever testing their own limits, and this is an incredible challenge. Some want to achieve recognition as the "first" of something - first woman, first Canadian, or whatever. For others it's a spiritual quest. And George Mallory, who died on his third attempt, said he climbed simply because it was there.
If you are captivated by this great natural creation, you may enjoy the following:
- The Greater Meaning of Everest by Jamling Tenzing Norgay
- Facts compiled on the 60th anniversary of the first successful climb to the top: 60 Fascinating Everest Facts
Incredible video of climbers at the top