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Archive for August, 2007

No Shortcuts to the Top

We just finished listening to the audio-book version of No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks by Ed Viesturs.

The book is good, but it has an odd pacing. I wonder if Ed and the editor were trying to approximate the acclimatization process of climbing a big peak. He’d describe being close to the summit, then go back several years to an earlier basecamp story, then go forward to set up high camp in a third location. I longed for a contiguous story, but the only thing holding it all together was the story of Ed’s prudently-executed passion for climbing and completing the circuit of 8000 meter peaks, in line with the motto that “Getting to the summit is optional; getting down is mandatory.”

In case you didn’t know, I am a little bit of an Everest buff. I can’t help but be drawn into the drama that accompanies most of the ascents. In my assessment, the mountaineering done by Westerners in the Himalayas is often executed with the utmost hubris. I cringe at the folly of the weekend warriors that attempt to buy their way to the top. I shake my head at the lack of instincts that, when combined with the natural disorientation of high altitude thinking, leads people to push too hard with too little mental, physical, and oxygen reserves left to return even to high camp. Yes, I am an armchair mountaineer, but it is in favor of prudence and respect for the limits of our biology. I do not advocate inordinate risktaking. I do not advocate the fact that these places of unparalleled beauty have become littered and fouled with human waste, and frozen human remains. All of it smacks of human/western arrogance.

That said, I admire Ed Viesturs. He climbed the mountains admirably: without oxygen, with prudence, and with respect for the mountain. But the popularization of the sport will undoubtedly have unintended consequences. Others will attempt to follow in his footsteps and will do a poor imitation. As the popularity of high-altitude mountaineering increases, future climbing seasons will undoubtedly be sullied with multiple deaths as those Himalayan peaks rebuke human impertinence.

There is an remote possibility that I might have an opportunity to meet Ed Viesturs. He is a Seattle-ite, living on Bainbridge Island. If I ever did meet Ed I’d be honored to be in the presence of someone who lived his dreams, and achieved all he set out to do. That kind of ambition and follow-through is unbelievably rare, regardless of the venue.

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Snoqualmie Falls and Twin Falls

Since our furniture didn’t arrive on time, we spent the weekend out-and-about, rather than unpacking. On Saturday, we attended the Amazon company picnic, and on Sunday we went hiking at Snoqualmie and Twin Falls.

The photo shows me in a jacket, since I was cold. If I’m this cold in August, I’m in for a long, cold, miserable, winter full of whining and shivering.
Lura and MAS at Snoqualmie

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The Eagle Has Landed

We arrived in Bellevue and took possession of the new apartment. Unfortunately, our stuff probably won’t arrive until Saturday… (my rant against the moving industry in general and Bekins in particular will be forthcoming).

The important thing is that we’re here – safe and sound.



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