Going to Everest does seem a little crazy to some people. And, since I’ve gone there, I guess that would place me … and many others I know … in that category too. To me, crazy is not really the right word, as that implies reckless abandonment. I see climbing Everest as a calculated risk. Our lives are full of risk and we are better for it. The key is to take a smart risk.
I can only speculate as to why others go to Everest, and I will do so based on people I have spoken with. But I can also share my personal motivations for going.
I am a very goal motivated person. Without an immediate goal to focus on, it is all too easy for me to lose my drive and to flounder. My mind dulls and my body weakens. With a goal, I have the passion and drive to meet each day head-on. My focus sharpens. I pay attention to my fitness. The benefits spill into my overall health and my life in general.
In everything I do, I want to be good. Don’t we all? In a study around what creates “drive”, Dan Pink found that the opportunity for “Mastery” is critical for having a motivated and fulfilling fife. Mastery is simply the desire to get better at something. For me, this “something” is climbing.
I was a climber from a very young age and, as I grew, I began to test myself on bigger and bigger challenges. I started with local rock and ice climbs and then moved further afield to find bigger and more challenging climb’s in the US, Mexico and South America. I then moved onto mountaineering in what seemed to me as a natural progression. Looking for bigger and bigger challenges I finally set my sights on Everest.
Now that I am done climbing the 7 summits (the highest point on each of the 7 continents) I am still not done. Climbing was not just part of a checklist or a “bucket list” for me. It is a way of life and it feeds me every day. I intend to continue to climb as long as I can, expecting that my objectives will change as time marches on.
I also see climbing as a way to explore new worlds and people. Climbing has taken me to places few people will ever go and I have had experiences that have made me a better person. Life is short and I believe that everyone should make the most of their life. I have chosen to do that via climbing.
So, if this is why I go, I can only assume that there are others like me out there. There are others for whom climbing Everest is just part of a check list. They are “peak baggers”, not climbers. Climbing is not the only activity to draw attention this way, but it is one of the more powerful magnets. These people often enter into the game for a short while and then move on. This is a reasonable proposition as this is how we learn if this is the right thing for us. They key is to enter at a place relative to your experience level. Starting with Everest is just not a smart move.