Tuesday, July 03, 2007

say it ain't so

The '08 Summer Olympics will be in China. I have issues with that, but I'll save them for another post.

China has planned a route for the Olympic Torch Relay that includes and attempted summit of Mt. Everest. It's an interesting plan. Kinda cool. But I wonder if the planners took into consideration the fact that there's almost no oxygen on Everest's summit. And fire needs oxygen...

That small detail aside, here's my real issue...
The Chinese government is building a road up to Base Camp on Everest. A paved, blacktop highway for the torch relay-ers to run on. China Plans Highway on Mt Everest

A road. On Mt. Everest.

Call me a purist, or... whatever... but isn't there something fundamentally not right about people being able to simply walk a paved road up to Mt. Everest's Base Camp? There aren't many places left in the world (at least, *I* don't think there are) where man can truly test himself against nature; determine who's will is stronger. Everest is one of those places and it should remain that way.

Granted, if a person makes it to Base Camp, they still have about 10,000 feet of snow and ice left to climb. So the paved road certainly isn't going eliminate all the risk or challenge of climbing Everest.

Still, Mt. Everest has remained relatively untouched for so long. As other climbing routes on other mountains have been made into tourist attractions, Everest has remained a place where only true climbers dare to go. Now that the way to Base Camp is being made almost drivable, what's next? Permanent shanties where the curious can buy hot chocolate and watch the climbers prepare for their expeditions?

Here's what bugs me - Everest has always been a place for uncommon men (and women....). Just getting to Base Camp requires training and commitment that the ordinary person simply won't endure. A paved road makes Base Camp just another stop along the way. It takes away from the mystery and the magic. It takes away from the pure contest of wills that takes place between man and nature.

Maybe I'm over-reacting. But I can't help but feel that something precious is being lost.


Blogger Cheryl said...

You're not overreacting. I am sitting here with my mouth hanging open reading about this idea. It's crazy that in order to celebrate one thing they have to ruin something else.

11:37 PM  

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