Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Because It's There

I am fascinated by Mt. Everest. When I read Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster, I was riveted. Right now, on The Discovery Channel is a show called, Everest: Beyond the Limit. It's feeding my fascination for this mountain.

It isn't that I have (or ever had) any interest in climbing Everest. I did a lot of mountain climbing as a kid with my family and I was never that crazy about it. And these were just hikes in the Rockies, not technical climbing. I used to get a lot of blisters, so that probably colored my impressions of it. No, the fascination with Everest is more about the limits of being human. As a species, we're equipped for so little. No real defensive weapons. No fur. No big teeth. No gills. Yet there are very places on Earth that our feet haven't tread. Everest would have been a natural thing to avoid. The old "because it's there" philosophy is still in effect. People climb to challenge themselves. They push themselves beyond their limits (hence the title of the Discovery show) and some will make it to the top, others will fail, still others will die trying.

Perhaps it's the spectre of death that also adds to the fascination of Everest. This is never a guarantee that a person can climb the mountain and make it home alive. Over 200 people have died climbing Everest. And every year there continue to be hardy souls who desperately want to be among few who have made it.

So what things fascinate you? Things you have no intention of doing or seeing, but simply interest you as a spectator of sorts?

1 comment:

F.S. said...

I love flying machines of all kinds. If a plane (or blimp or glider or whatever) flies over, I stop and look at it. There are planes that fly over my house regularly that I can identify by sound -- and when one flies over whose sound I don't recognize, I go outside and look at it. I could hang out at airports and airstrips staring at planes as they take off and land for hours (and have). I've never taken this fascination to the next level: I've been tempted to take flying lessons, but never pulled the trigger.