Jan 13, 2007 at 9:05 am #1221214
@eaglembLocale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
After watching the "Everest" series, where in one episode, numerous climbers went right past another hiker in mortal peril without stoping or offering aid, I'm wondering:
If you were near your goal in a time constrained environment, would you stop and help someone in serious trouble (which may cost you time, your goal or whatever) or keep hiking?Jan 13, 2007 at 9:19 am #1374223
Mike, it must be the "way my Momma raised me."
No, I could not walk past someone in mortal peril no matter whether it cost me my goal or was just the result of their own stupidity.
Obviously others make different decisions. I have also never had any desire to put myself in the situation on Everest.Jan 13, 2007 at 10:59 pm #1374296
@dealtoyoLocale: Mt Hood
NEVER!!!! I have to look at my self in the mirror everyday.Jan 13, 2007 at 11:35 pm #1374297
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
I'd like to think that I would never walk past. For me the mountains are the place I become the person I want to be all the time if I could, in other words helping others when in need, sharing what I have when I can, being friendly to everyone, treating everyone as comrades and equals, recognizing that we all share the same humility and vulnerability in the face of the hardships of wild places.
So, yes, I'd like to believe that I would stop and care for that dying walker. And I can't imagine most other people would be so callous in most circumstances. From all I've read… and I am by no means well-informed about this… the whole event took place way up in the Death Zone, where life as we know it down here, where oxygen is available and it doesn' take every available drop of willpower to just get one foot in front of the other, just doesn't present the problems of survival that it does up there. Remember, most of the people who walked past were not in much better shape than that dying walker, most of them were not champion mountaineers or Olympic athletes. I think you have to know something about the Death Zone in order to fully understand what happened up there. I don't think it is as simple as, "I wouldn't have done it."
Here are some articles:Jan 13, 2007 at 11:58 pm #1374299
In the death zone, I could and would keep walking.
If it were me about to die, so high up, Id expect others to keep walking too. The risk they would face even ATTEMPTING a rescue is to high. 20 people can die trying to save 1. My life isnt worth twenty. Neither is yours.
You go up there willingly; No one forced you.
You go up there knowingly; The risks are not secret.
Few grander places to spend eternity, atop Chomolungma; "Goddess Mother of the World".Jan 14, 2007 at 12:26 am #1374301
If this is what high-altitude mountaineering is all about, I don't want anything to do with it.Jan 14, 2007 at 12:59 am #1374302
On the Discovery Channel’s "Everest"
Yes… The same fine people that brought you Man vs. Nature!
The expedition chronicled in Everest: Beyond the Limit included 11 climbers; 24 Sherpas and camp crew; three professional mountain guides; and 17 people on the television production team. (By the way the Sherpas carried half their body weight in oxygen bottles, ropes, tents what ever was needed to get the "climbers" to the top).
Terry O'Connor the expedition's doctor stopped to evaluate the fallen climber and radioed base camp that the man was close to death. It was also stated it would take a team of at least 8 men and twice the allowed time to rescue/recover the body of the fallen climber at that altitude (who would surly be dead long before reaching advanced base camp). It was sad but there was nothing nobody could do for the man. The scene was total chaos as inexperienced climbers were putting everyone else on the mountain at risk. At key points of the ascent and decent climbers were just standing in line to hook up on safety ropes, enduring –50 degree temperatures, high winds becoming frostbitten and running out of their precious oxygen.
Bottom line its impossible to say what you would do until your there and that time arrives…
RegardsJan 15, 2007 at 12:59 pm #1374448
@trackerLocale: New England
Craig, That was a specific situation on one of the most extreme mountains in the World. I would hope that in lesser situations all necessary aid would be rendered by those who came across a similiar situation.
There's 'goals' in Life, and then there's morality, or humanity, at play; which I'd like to think would overshadow anyone's 'goal' vs saving another human Life.Jan 15, 2007 at 2:03 pm #1374463
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
I met a guy who's place I took at Primal Quest last year as an alternate. He was in the same situation where someone died right in front of him. I am pretty sure it was in the death zone as well.
In a way it must have put a big dent in his dream about Everest. When trying to get some good stories about his trip out of him, he was very reluctant to talk about it.
I don't blame him.
Here is the summit picture of him.Jan 15, 2007 at 5:00 pm #1374484
Gene, were not talking about lesser situations. You can die just SITTING on Everest, let alone having an accident. "Accident on an 8000M peak" should be an oxymoron. I rock climb and have long accepted and understood and that accidents can happen, but 8000M's are in an ENTIRELY different league- a league I have no interest in joining. I think the insanity, boldness, and perhaps the appeal of climbing 8000's pretty much hitches on the fact that you have entered a world where you'd better be ready to keep walking if you have to. If the climbers up there weren't willingly and knowingly flirting with death, why would we all be looking up going "Holy crap…that's nuts, that's amazing!" Nobody cares about what I climb because I'm not laying it out there in the same way, and that's fine! If Everest is someone else's idea of fun and accomplishment, go for it, I just feel bad for the families that have been left behind.
The point is, I don't know and I don't want to voluntarily find out if I could keep walking. Would I want myself or anyone else I know and love up there? No way.Jan 15, 2007 at 5:29 pm #1374488
Edit: I thought of a more succinct way to describe the following paragraphs; my actions would depend on two variables, the chance of a sucessful rescue, and the chances/consequences of a failed attempt. Obviously if they victim was dying and trying to save him would cost me my life (high altitude bivouac, storm coming in, etc…); it would not be wise to attempt a resuce..
Consider this alternative point of view.. Mountaineering and other extremely hazardous activities have additional moral imperatives, above and beyond what we use to make decisions on a daily basis in the comfort of our living rooms.
My limited experience with climbing and mountaineering has taught me the following moral imperative: fully accept the consequences of defeat before you begin. If you miss a hold on a crux move with fatal exposure, or make any one of a hundred other single point failure mistakes, you might die.. It might mean widowing your wife and orphaning your kids. If that is an acceptable risk to you, and you have prepared for it with proper planning, insurance, etc.. do it; if not, stay home and watch others on TV.. Stick to activities with 1.low risk, 2.low chance of failure. You do not belong there endangering others who voluntarily accepted those same risks and prepared accordingly.
If 'rescue' is simply a matter of calling a helicopter in good weather to pull you out, fine. If it involves seriously risking the lives of other climbers who are already at 99% effort and very close to the tipping point of failure/death themselves, you need to ask yourself, "is my life worth more than theirs?" Or rather, you should have asked yourself that before you left.
To get your mind around this concept, ask yourself the following question; do you send money every month to the millions of children who literally starve to death each year? Do you send so much that you put your own financial security and future at stake? If you will not risk money, can you truly say you would risk your LIFE (not just money), to save someone else?
I would sacrifice my life to save someone in my family or my party who mutually agreed to these risks with me; but my risk analysis process results in less generous actions on my part for strangers, and depending on the consequences of a failed resuce attempt. Remember an axim of resuce; the rescuer should not become another victim..
And just so you all don't think I'm a chronic bystander; I have been a first responder several times, and probably saved one drowning victim. But it did not require a high percentage chance of losing my own life..
I would appreciate comments from anyone who has actually risked their lives singly or in a group, and faced these issues.Jan 16, 2007 at 3:27 pm #1374595
@james481Locale: Sandia Mountains
In my experience, pulling someone down off of a 10,000 foot peak with temps around freezing and in bad weather will push an entire SAR team to (or beyond) their limits of endurance and safety. Until you have carried the dead weight of a person in a litter, you don't really know how tiring and frustrating that experience can be. Now, add to that another 17,000 feet in elevation and temps 80 degrees colder, and you see what kind of problem you're dealing with. In those sorts of situations, rescue becomes extremely dangerous at best, and suicidal at worst.
Mountaineers, of course, know this. It isn't a surprise to anyone that this sort of thing happens. No matter how good your team, your climbing companions, or your expedition support may be, when you go above 27,000 feet, you're going alone. Sad as it may be, in that sort of environment, if you fall and cannot get up, you die alone. Such is the gamble that every high altitude mountaineer accepts, before they ever set foot outside BC.Jan 16, 2007 at 6:41 pm #1374626
@obi96Locale: Deep in the Green Mountains
To give you an idea of what can be involved with rescue at those elevations, later in the same show it took nine people nine hours to move the double amputee guy one mile down a broad snow slope. For one person on a six foot wide ledge at 27,000ft, rescue is not an option. A quote that means more to me the older I get is "All the experts are dead."Jan 17, 2007 at 9:27 am #1374682
"later in the same show it took nine people nine hours to move the double amputee guy one mile down a broad snow slope. For one person on a six foot wide ledge at 27,000ft, rescue is not an option."
And he was capable of assisting in his own rescue! One of the quotes made during his rescue was interesting. "Attempting a rescue in the death zone may just be the last nice thing you ever do."
Make sure you made peace with the fact that you might never come down LONG before you ever consider going up.
If you cant, dont go. Its that easy.Jan 17, 2007 at 2:34 pm #1374708
>Few grander places to spend eternity, atop Chomolungma; "Goddess Mother of the World".
The above statement makes little sense to me. I suppose ancient folklore of the locals is interesting, but not relevant to this individual who wishes to continue enjoying the outdoors for as long as possible. And since enjoyment is a key factor, Everest would never be on my list of things to do. The "punched that card" approach that seems prevelant in many of those seeking out the TALLEST MOUNTAIN in the world does not correlate to outdoor enjoyment for me. It almost becomes something else…this Everest. It is not cliche, but there probably is a good word for it.
Also it does seem apparent that an "Olympic" level athlete is not guaranteed an easier time dealing with altitude. It would appear that ones ability to survive relies mostly on genetics. There is a good chance a non-trained, smoker Sherpa would have an easier time sustaining above 26,000 feet than an Olympic sprinter from Jamaica. That is the biggest unknown…and the reason many on the thread have pointed out, you do not know what you would do in that exact situation. Some of the individuals on the TV program could not figure out how to re-set their crampons once in the "death zone". Simple thought becomes difficult.
I think the crew handled the situation responsibly and with dignity, given that like in other life situations you are faced with horrific decisions that really have no positive outcome.Jan 18, 2007 at 2:11 pm #1374798
"The above statement makes little sense to me. I suppose ancient folklore of the locals is interesting, but not relevant to this individual who wishes to continue enjoying the outdoors for as long as possible."
And? So what? Your failure to grasp a bit of mildly poetic philosophical waxing has exactly what to do with the price of tea in China? You dont want to climb Everest? Dont.Jan 18, 2007 at 2:44 pm #1374802
I doubt the folks who truly FEEL the statement you regurgitated consider it mildly poetic philisophical waxing. It may be rather rude to put it in such a condesending context. But I am no expert on local customs or beliefs for the Himalaya's.
The point as to whether one would stop and help a dying hiker was basically settled I thought. I think anyone here would do anything they could, but it is generally not an option up there.
I simply took it a step further to question why anyone needs to go up there at all? Poetic philosophy that is culturally lightyears away from me and probably from more than a few centuries ago is most definitely not a reason for me…and so I choose that to key in on. Watching the trash and the waste pile up and the Sherpa's lose their lives was enough to turn me off.
I also got the sense from watching the TV doc. done for Discovery that some people may in fact be kind of screwed up in their day to day lives and focus on accomplishing some grand task to achieve an end beyond the actual climb. That is fine, but nothing I want to be around. My whole point was…for me, it is just so far from what I want out of my time in nature.
I realize most, including yourself, may not care about my opinion, but it is just a message board. Don't take it too seriously.
I will now officially climb off my soapbox.Jan 18, 2007 at 5:38 pm #1374829
Firstly, I "regurgitated" nothing. It was all original content. The only "folks" who really "FEEL it", read it here first. As the author of those words, I can put it into any context I feel like, so please save yourself the embarrassment of preaching to me about what is or is not condescending with regards to this topic.
Secondly, as an admitted non-expert, I'd kindly ask you to refrain from deciding and then declaring for someone else – especially an entire culture – what is or is not "rude". However if you desperately feel the need to do so, you might want to have a vague idea of what it is your talking about.
Thirdly, it is not for you to decide what goals people should have. Just because one persons thoughts and opinions on the subject "isn't a reason for you", doesn't mean it isn't a reason – a goal – an aspiration – a dream – for someone else.
Fourthly, for your own edification, Chomolungma is the Tibetan and Sherpa name for Mt Everest. It translates as "Goddess mother of the world" or "Mother of the Universe" depending on who you ask. It is the name Andrew Waugh, the British surveyor-general of India, would have given it (Mt Everest) in 1865 had he known that was is its local name. He was taught by Sir George Everest to use the local name for all places when naming them for British documentation, but both Nepal and Tibet were then closed to foreign travel at the time, so he named the mountain after his mentor, until such time as it could be renamed with the local appellation. By the time people knew its local name, Mt Everest had "stuck".
Finally, the philosophy that you state is "lightyears" away from you is NOT from a "few centuries ago". Its just a simple acknowledgment of death and the risks of going up there. Death is gonna happen. You cant escape it. No matter how much you dread it. You might die in the shower tonight, or in your bed 100 years from now. It doesn't matter. Your going to die. My point was simply that there are worse ways to die than to do it while striving for a goal, and worse places to spend eternity than on top of a mountain. I'd rather be there than being in some insignificant hole, serving as worm food, ensconced in taffeta. Thats just me. Maybe some others. You? Doesnt sound like it. Thats fine by me.
But hey, please dont let your admitted and demonstrated ignorance stop you from passing judgment from that soapbox. I wont take it too seriously.Jan 18, 2007 at 6:20 pm #1374834
@oystersLocale: South Australia
I agree with all those that said things are different up there.
If you want to take part in such activities you accept the risks involved in that activity.
Its how I think with everything I do. If I really like doing something, and its risky, I will do it if I am reasonably confident I can succeed.
In march last year I climbed Federation peak in SW Tasmania, Australia. The final ascent is about 200m or so of vertical climbing. It is extremely exposed (about 600m straight down to Lake Geeves), and with finite weather windows and a very long and difficult approach taking at least 4 or 5 days in good weather, it is not traditionally a roped ascent. You would need a full rack to protect it. The crux is an incredibly scary right hand ledge traverse that trends upwards. You can't see the next bit, can't see holds, all you can see is space, and a massive drop below. Its only about a grade 5 in Australian climbing ratings (no idea on the conversion to the US system) which is easy, but with no protection one mistake and you are dead. Many people had died here. But I did it. Why? When I stood on the summit and saw those views I re-confirmed my belief in God. Thats the best way to describe it.
Interestingly when I describe the climb to my mother she tells me I am not allowed to go there again.
If these guys want to feel what its like to stand on Mt Everest, they know they have to accept the risks involved, and know that if they are going down, no one will be there to help them. No one would be able to have helped me if I landed on a spindly ledge half way up Fed Pk and layed there for a couple of hours dying in a bloody mess. If I fell I hoped I would fall the whole way.
Would I do it again?
I am trying to find a way to get back to Tasmania as soon as possibleJan 18, 2007 at 6:51 pm #1374839
That was a great story, and I believe very relevant to this thread. If you died on that mountain you would have no one to blame but yourself; and you accepted that risk. I doubt you would have expected a group of rescue climbers to risk that crux segment to come get you if you were gripped and couldn't go up or down. Good luck in your future endeavors.Jan 19, 2007 at 11:21 am #1374893
No embarassment here. I think we agree on just about everything.
I think we got off track when I took your statement as flippant. Obviously you are comfortable with your finite existence on the planet….or maybe not, but it is evident you have thought a lot about it.
Even though you have not mentioned anything about the Sherpa people and their history/beliefs with the mountain (except where it intersects with Western culture) I believe you probably know about that too.
I do challenge those that climb to the top as to why they do it. For me, I am not comfortable with dying until my 2 children are old enough to fend for themselves. So, the death outcome is the first thing I would not accept.
I also layer on top if you do go, what do you do to insure that your activity does not end with just spending thousands of dollars and 6 weeks of time involved. Did you leave a mark on this pristine location that will never go away. Is there a huge trash pile…or crap pit…or dead bodies building up that will never find there way off? What a glorious site I am sure. Something tells me that some Sherpa's who may miss out on the money generated by this business enterprise would in fact prefer to have The Mother Goddess of the Earth free of the garbage and bodies of wealthy climbers too.Jan 21, 2007 at 2:06 am #1375054
This "Would you walk past?" thread is maybe the most exciting web thread I've ever read.
Thank you all who contributed.
dpJan 25, 2007 at 2:57 pm #1375717
@james481Locale: Sandia Mountains
One or two people, through the course of this thread, have posed the question of why, with so much at stake, do people choose to subject themselves to mountains so frought with peril. Why do we subject ourselves to bitter cold, biting winds, sheer cliff faces, and the possibility of a lonely, cold and painful death?
As an "amateur" mountaineer who has never been much above fourteen thousand feet, and only visted the likes of K2 and Nanga Parbat in my mind's eye, I'm certainly no authority on the matter, but I'll try to answer to the best of my ability, based on my experience and the experiences of the world's great mountaineers that I have only met in my imagination.
The question may seem pretty simple, but the answer is as complex as the personalities of the people who engage in this most dangerous of hobbies. Distilled to the most basic answer, we go because those places are there. For the same reason that we send men hurtling through space, wrapped in little more than a foil can, to leave their footsteps in the eternal dust of the moon's surface. The same reason that men spend months isolated on the barren tundra of the polar ice caps, all so they can set foot on a spot that can only be seen on a compass. The desire to explore and experience new frontiers is an inseperable part of our human nature.
This answer alone is admittedly pretty unsatisfactory. After all, if this is part of human nature, why don't we all engage in these sorts of dangerous activities? Where is the exploration in standing on a summit that hundreds of others have already conquered? To ponder these questions, we enter into the winding maze of the human psyche. Unsurprisingly, this is where the answers get complex.
In my (rather limited) view, there are esentially two goals that all mountaineers aspire to achieve to some extent. The first is to conquer nature. To reach the summit through the worst terrain, weather, and hardship that nature can procure, and to come out the other side alive. Then there is the more nebulous, personal goal of conquering one's self. The confidence and wisdom that comes from persevering to complete a task that seems impossible. I would think that most mountaineers wish to achieve a combination of these two goals.
Although conquering nature is (arguably) a noble goal, and itself a strong motivater in the human condition, it's also a fairly simple goal. To know that nature tried her best to defeat you, but failed. Men have been seeking this goal since the beginning of time.
The conquering of one's self, in contrast, means something different to everyone, so answering for anyone other than myself is difficult or impossible. Personally, standing on the summit of a mountain, looking down to all that lays below, reminds me of the triviality of our daily lives. Like staring into an ant farm watching the insects scurry about, I feel as though I am larger than the daily irritations that consume my generally mundane existance, and how little those brief but inevitable periods of anger and sorrow really mean in the larger context of my life.
I am reminded that there are grander things in this world than my trivial existance. The mountain, and the journey it represents, both reaching the summit and my personal journey through life, is frought with danger and hardship. At the end of that journey, though, lies an experience which transcends the physical and spiritual existance we all share. We all climb our own mountains.Jan 25, 2007 at 3:00 pm #1375719
beautifulJan 25, 2007 at 3:28 pm #1375726
@tomcat1066Locale: Southwest GA
Very well said.
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