If I’d Been a Career 8000-meter Peak Mountain Climber, I’d probably be Dead by Now

I started reading accounts of mountain ascents and attempted ascents when I was in junior high because my father, who climbed mountains in college as I did later, had most of the classic accounts. My target peak was K2, the second-highest mountain in the world, and considered more difficult than Everest. The fatality rate on that peak is about 25%.

In fact, like the successful American climber Ed Viesturs, I wanted to summit all fourteen of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen. There have been many bad years on these mountains in the Himalayas and Karakoram ranges, so why go there?

I have no answer, really, because I never made it to any summits higher than Colorado’s 14,0000-foot peaks, some of which my father climbed years before.

I did have an opportunity to trek in to the Base Camp at Everest, but the money fell thought at the last minute.

You have to push yourself on these climbs and know when to trust your instincts when everything about the mountain is against you, especially above the so-called “Death Zone” at 26,000 feet, above which the atmosphere isn’t conducive to long-term survival.

Perhaps pushing oneself is the rationale behind climbing. It was for me because truth be told, one doesn’t have a lot of time for the view. It amazes me, though, how the dreams of a high school student can be just as vital now as they were then. Do you have dreams like that? Things you wanted to do and mourn not doing?

Malcolm