Human Landmarks on Mount Everest

I get too easily lost. When going from one place to another that requires turns, I will more than often take note of landmarks along the way — notable stores, odd looking lamp posts, even the occasional fire hydrant that has interesting graffiti on it.

I know when I pass a particular store, I am going in the right direction. I have often wondered how people do this kind of thing when climbing mountains. I figured that perhaps they use flags that have been planted by successful climbers in the past. It turns out that I was somewhat right, except about the part of the climbers being successful.

It seems that there are over two hundred corpses on the path to the top of Mount Everest. Each one of them was a climber that had dreams of reaching the top but for one of many reasons failed and perished. There are people that thought they had enough oxygen to get to the top but were wrong as well as people that thought they could make it without extra oxygen and just couldn’t make it back down.

There are many sad people who took shelter in various places along the way that froze to death when temperatures got unbearable for too long. All of these people have one thing in common — they now serve as landmarks for people who are trying to avoid joining them.

If you are wondering, as I am, why they (in this case they being the proper authority figures that could do something about corpses on a mountain) have not removed these bodies — do the people who have perished along the way not deserve a proper burial? It is a matter of logistics.

When you are up that high up on a mountain, just moving yourself forward is a serious struggle — let alone trying to relocate a lifeless body. Therefore, the bodies are left to lay where they are and are quite well preserved by the temperature and atmosphere. It is somewhat inspiring and intimidating to think that one day you could be on your way to the top only to be permanently left behind as a reminder of what could be if one is ill equipped, or just unlucky.

4 comments

  • I have a lot of people in my family who, unfortunately, love to use landmark navigation and the big problem with that is how easily landmarks can change. “Go straight until you hit the place where the three big green trees used to be, then turn left and go down the hill a little bit until you see the red house. If you see a blue car parked on the street, you went too far, so turn around and come back up the hill until you see a redbird on Mary’s lawn. Then you’re almost there.”

    It makes me nuts! I much prefer precise, reliable, feet and miles and degree directions because they can be checked and quantified before, during, and after the trip.

    Like

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