Thursday, January 12, 2006

Because it's there

Speaking of trekking and mountaineering, there have been instances when people and friends have asked me why I love trekking so much. I do so for my reasons - it's an activity that helps one to be in the 'present'. Your mind wanders, and you could find yourself hurtling down and badly injured. Trekking gives me a sense of achievement and peace.

Till 1945 or so North Face (in Tibet) was the only route to summit Everest - Top Of The World. Nepal had not opened her gates to foreigners, which meant attempting a South Face summit was out of question. Comparitively, summitting via South Face is easier, clearly indicated by the data at hand (including route maps, statistics etcetera).

And there was this mountaineer named George Leigh Mallory, who was about to set foot for conquering Mt. Everest. Dated back in 1923-24. Being a task that was never achieved, making such an attempt certainly seemed hazardous. In an interview with The New York Times, Mallory was asked: "Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?". He replied what now is a world famous quote: "Because it's there!"

Those words inspired one Robert W. Service, and he has quoted it in his poem Dauntless Quest. I'm pulling out the first verse of the poem where the quote lies:

Why seek to scale Mount Everest,
Queen of the air?
Why strive to crown that cruel crest
And deathward dare?
Said Mallory of dauntless quest:
"Because it's there."

George Leigh Mallory teamed up with Andrew Irvine on the fatal 1924 expedition to Everest. They never returned, and 75 years later, on May 2 1999, George Leigh Mallory's body was found on the slopes of Everest. Because he never returned back, the entire mountaineering community has been debating till date whether Mallory could have been the first person to summit Everest. More so because all evidences of the 1999 expedition led by Eric Simonson point to his death occuring while descending Everest.

Though I would not like to drive the discussion as to whether he was able to summit Everest or not, being a core trekker and an aspiring mountaineer, I salute his efforts.

A bunch of people have formed something called as a Mars Society, and they explain on their home page as to why humans should be sent to Mars: 'Because it's there', with due credits to Mallory. Hehe :)


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