CLIMBING QOMOLANGMA: WORTH THE RISKS?
Last year, hundreds of people spent good money on an experience that they knew would include crowds, discomfort and danger. Many would become sick, due to the extreme cold and low air pressure, and a few would even lose their lives. Yet, despite all this, by the end of the trip many were already planning to return. For these people, climbing Qomolangma is an experience like no other, making some feel weak and others, powerful.
British mountain climber George Mallory wrote of climbing Qomolangma, “What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy... We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.” Sadly, Mallory would die on the mountain in 1924, although his body would not be found until many years later. It is still not known if he succeeded in reaching the top of Qomolangma before it took his life.
In 2011, words similar to those of Mallory were spoken by American mountain climber Alan Arnette, who climbed Qomolangma in that year and was going to climb other high mountains around the world. “It brings into focus what’s important to you.” He added, “There are a thousand reasons to turn around and only one to keep going. You really have to focus on the one reason that’s most important and unique to you. It forces you to look deep inside yourself and figure out if you really have the physical, as well as mental, toughness to push when you want to stop.”
With the majority of attempts to climb Qomolangma resulting either in total success or failure, is there also a scientific reason behind this risk-taking? Recent studies indicate that risk-taking may be part of human nature, with some of us more likely to take risks than others. Psychologist Frank Farley has spent years studying people who jump out of planes and drive fast cars, as well as those who climb Qomolangma. He refers to the personalities of these people as “Type T”, with the “T” standing for “thrill”.
Speaking to the LA Times about the “Type T” personalities, Farley said, “They’ll say, ‘I’m not taking risks, I’m an expert...’ They don’t want to die and they don’t expect to die.”
Research also suggests that our desire to seek risks can be connected to how much we expect to benefit from the result.
With this in mind, are the benefits of climbing Qomolangma worth the risks? It’s totally up to you.
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