2015-04-18

Life and death on the mountain


Image from NASA. Source: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=85710&src=eorss-iotd

Last year (2014) on the 18th of April, a large piece of a hanging glacier broke off and triggered an avalanche on the south face of Mount Everest. The avalanche overtook a group of guides, killing sixteen. There had never been a day before with that many deaths on the mountain. Now, a year later, climbers are facing the challenge of Mount Everest again. Of the climbers now in the Himalaya, two are fellow Colorado mountain enthusiasts: Alan Arnette [alanarnette.com] and Jon Kedrowski [jonkeverest.org].

Alan and I enjoy hiking in the same areas of Northern Colorado, often unexpectedly running across each other on some local trail. Jon Kedrowski is a resident in the heart of the Colorado mountains. I don't think Jon has an "off season", there is never a shortage of beautiful photos and wild adventures coming from him. I am always guaranteed a healthy dose of inspiration and a yearning for the mountains whenever I see a post from either of these two.

The fact that both Alan and Jon are adventuring in the Himalaya on this dark day for Everest is both unsurprising and unnerving. It's unsurprising because the window of opportunity is open and it's only open a little while. It's unnerving because the reality of potential disaster is more personal than a sobering headline in climbing news. However, tragedy isn't an end-all. My recent review of "Supersurvivors" touched on the concept of "bouncing forward".

Climbers of Everest have bounced forward after the tragedy on Everest last year. Safer routes, more precautions, better planning, and more. (I encourage you to read Alan's article [alanarnette.com] on the events of the tragedy and the Everest community's recovery from it.) I've also made recent adjustments to my adventuring as well. After the death of my friend Chris, I reevaluated my approach to local hikes and have established some extra precautions in the case of an emergency while on any mountain -- not just "the big ones", as I'd thought previously.

Today, I invite you to join my friends Alan and Jon digitally in the Himalaya by reading their words as they take the next steps in their adventures. Additionally, technology has made what was impossible now possible:
- Use Satellite trackers to follow Alan [alanarnette.com] and Jon [findmespot.com] as they climb
- Climb to Everest Base Camp [google.com] with Google Streetview
- Explore the route up Everest itself [everestavalanchetragedy.com] with Discovery's Everest Tragedy explorer

Whatever your adventure and however you pursue it, I hope you appreciate the good experiences and learn from the bad ones. Today, we look back and remember those who have died. Tomorrow, we honor their memory by building a better future.
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