- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
And so ends another banner climbing season at the world's highest graveyard, Mount Everest.
Hundreds of climbers left a fresh trash heap of empty oxygen bottles, miles of rope and, oh, yeah, 11 stunned-face corpses, making the earth's tallest peak look like some macabre wedding cake.
Over there, in a cave, is David Sharp. Some 40 climbers reportedly passed the 34-year-old British schoolteacher as they made their way to the top, and only one party tried to help. You talk about Cold Mountain.
Maybe this is what Sharp gets for lying to his mother. He'd told her not to worry. "You are never alone on Everest," he said before he left. "There are climbers everywhere." In a way, he was right. He won't be alone. Sharing that cave with him is a corpse from 1997.
Those 40 climbers disgust Ed Viesturs, an American climber who has summited Everest six times. "How can they sleep at night?" he says. "How can they live with the thought, I made it to the summit, but I didn't do anything to help this guy who was dying?"
Here's how: Many of them are not true mountaineers. They're trophy hunters. Mountaineers revere the whole mountain. Trophy hunters just want the picture at the top. They spend up to $100,000 each to be guided to the summit, another checkmark on their to-do list of life, right behind Run with the bulls and Play Augusta. You think they're going to spend all this money and time and not make it all the way? Over your dead body.
Even the first man to reach the top of Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, 86, was aghast. "It was wrong, if there was a man suffering altitude problems and huddled under a rock, just to lift your hat, say 'Good morning' and pass on by," he told New Zealand AP.
"That mountain became a circus years ago," legendary Spanish climber Juanito Oiarzabal told reporters. "And it's getting worse."
Do you realize that there can be a wait of an hour or more to climb the ladder at the Second Step, a rock wall at 28,230 feet? Everest used to be the last frontier--pristine and foreboding. Now it's the Des Moines DMV. Come to think of it, climbing Everest used to be the pinnacle of human achievement, a rare feat. Now it's like making the white pages. More than 2,500 people have made it up and back. (More than 200 have died trying.) And yet they still come, all wanting a slice of her to pin on their chests.
This year, we had folks trying to be the youngest up, oldest, first British married couple and first Playboy cover model. What, no redheaded Amish twins? Some Spaniards planned to leave an essay on Don Quixote at the top. One Swede died when he tried to ski down Everest's North Face.