Posts Tagged ‘mountaineering’

I was surfing the web aimlessly when I came across this sad news:

Swedish mountaineer and professional skier Fredrik Ericsson died Friday while trying to summit K2 in Pakistan, his friend David Schipper told CNN in a telephone interview.

The incident occurred between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. as Ericsson was attempting to become the first man to ski from the summit to base camp, said Schipper, who said he learned of the accident on the world’s second-tallest peak in a satellite call from fellow climber Fabrizio Zangrilli.


Ericsson, along with his climbing partners Trey Cook and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, had begun the summit push between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. in low-visibility weather.

After several hours of climbing, they approached the bottom of the bottleneck. At this point, Cook returned to Camp 4, leaving Kaltenbrunner and Ericsson to continue their ascent.

As Ericsson was attempting to fix ropes to the snow and ice along the route he “lost his purchase and was unable to arrest his fall,” Schipper said.

Ericsson’s body, resting at about 7,000 meters, will remain where it fell, Schipper said on Ericsson’s website.

“His parents have requested it remain in the mountains he loved,” he wrote. “Retrieval would be exceptionally dangerous.”

Such incidents are of course not uncommon — many climbers die similarly each year.  The comment thread to this news report was also fairly predictable. One user wrote: I never understood poeple that would do a suicidal activity then call it sport! Another was full of scathing sarcasm: At least he died for a cause. Oh thats right he didn’t!

But what really caught my eye was one particular comment that I post below. It was in response to the derisive “Oh that’s right he didn’t” comment, and it is the reason why I am writing this post. It expresses exactly what I feel about such activities and says all that’s needs to be said to those who don’t get it.

“He didn’t even die for a cause”…

Yes he did; he died doing what he loved. He died pushing himself to his personal limits. He was in better shape than all of you combined. He didn’t rant on web sites, he was living life to the fullest for… (God forbid), HIMSELF. How many of you will die for a “cause”?

Ericsson isn’t a martyr. He isn’t a hero. He is just a man who went ahead and pursued his particular passion. How would the world look like if everyone else did the same?

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I am supposed to be writing a paper but here I am browsing through the website of James Milne (famous mathematician) who has climbed many mountains. Particularly breathtaking is his account of his Everest attempt (he was 61, reached within 350 m of the summit before turning back). Go to this page and read the sections under Tibet 2004. The description and pictures are awesome and it is chilling to read the last section where he describes his fellow climbers who died or almost died while trying to climb the peak .

I also found this great quote on his page, taken from some book:

The next thing an aspiring mountain climber should do is choose which mountain to climb. Mountain climbers that are still alive (usually because of luck and not for long) will probably advise that you should start with a fairly easy mountain to ascend so that you aren’t killed or maimed or disfigured. However, that is total nonsense since as a mountain climber it is inevitable that you will be killed, maimed, and disfigured, possibly in that order. So, if you want to climb Mt. Everest first, go for it and God have mercy on your soul.

Why am I suddenly browsing mountains? Well, I’ve always dreamt of climbing some serious peaks but at this conference I met this Polish guy who is an experienced mountaineer and he offered to take me up Mont Blanc this fall (highest peak in Alps but relatively easy climb) and eventually with enough practice, we hope to go up the Matterhorn!

Talking of the Matterhorn, watch this video, and you will know why it is such an iconic emblem and everyone’s dream climb.

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