I wrote this article in Aug 08 and today after hearing about the incident on everest, i had to visit it again and posting it on the new blog with few edits.
I read about the recent tragedy to strike the mountaineering world on K2, 11 climbers lost their lives and few suffered from injuries.
The climbers had a very excellent window of opportunity to scale K2 and it would be very difficult for any individual to resist the urge to get to the summit no matter what, specially when they had waited a long time for that window to open. When they found out that the fixed ropes were in wrong places and they had to move them. It took them a long time to do so and also some of the climbers returned since they didn’t trust the ropes anymore. The entire climbing party could have returned but they wanted to make full use of that small window of excellent weather. They reached the summit but it was about nightfall, its really hard to believe why would someone want to reach the summit of a mountain regarded as killer peak so late.
you can read complete account of the tragedy in this article,
Many accidents happen because people always try to push themselves without realizing their limits, i am tempted to use the word most instead of many here, this is not limited to mountaineering but to every day life in general. you won’t drive an old badly maintained car at speed of 100 mph on a freeway would you????? Heck, i wouldn’t even go past 75 mph now in my 98 Sentra, give me a 08 BMW and its a different story :D. Its the same concept that can be applied to any adventure sport. Divers shouldn’t dive to depths beyond their limits or Rock climbers shouldn’t lead climbs rated way beyond they normally lead and so on. I have so far applied the same rule to skiing, if i don’t feel comfortable going down a certain run, i won’t and i just tell my friends that i would meet them at the bottom and go on different route.
http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/536641/1977025, Reinhold Messner mentions how one of his client wanted to go higher on the peak even he wasn’t in any shape to do so. The same problem caused the Everest disaster which Jon krakauer mentions in his book Into This Air. When someone pays 50-60K for an expedition I am sure they want their money’s worth out of it but at what cost?. Losing your feet or fingers to frost bite isn’t worth any amount of money neither is your money going to be of good use to you if you die.
The mountain is here to stay, another attempt to get to the summit can be made, its definitely not worth something to die for. I have abandoned my summit attempt of Mt Stok Kangri 6155m because i was not in any position to reach the top, if i had continued i would have been at summit at around noon or maybe later, something i wasn’t ready to do. I wanted to reach summit before a certain time and i didn’t so it was time to turn back.
All this sounds good in theory and at high altitude with limited oxygen, you never know how your brain is going to react hence i can only “hope” i keep following the same principle on all of my future attempts on any peak and be able to practice what i am preaching.