Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate Mountain Climbing

I saw that a man my age just died climbing Everest last weekend.  As I thought my heart might burst yesterday while I was working out running around carrying a light sandbag and flipping tires, I took this as a dire warning that my expiration date of climbing Everest has passed.  This is a shame as I had always planned to join the Explorers Club in New York City and sip brandy by the tusks near the fire.  Formed in 1904 in New York, The Explorers Club is “an organization to unite explorers in the bonds of good fellowship and to promote the work of exploration by every means in its power”.  Despite hating camping much less “exploration”, I thought maybe I could slip in with a good mountain climb.  Look at that room!  I want to hang out there and have someone bring me a drink on a silver tray.  I thought I might look splendid in a tweed suit as an old man, and if I practiced at home I could probably master wearing a monocle.  I did suspect that I would have had to at least attempted to ascend Mt Everest to gain admittance to the club.  The major issues there would have been, of course, dying on the climb and a basic aversion to the cold. 

The Explorers Club really seems to be jazzed about members exploring in the cold.  They absorbed The Arctic Club of America in 1912, so my whining about how cold I was at base camp before wussing out on a previous attempted climb of Mt Everest would probably make me a more unpopular member.  This would be before I even had a chance to act up at one of their legendary “smokers”.  Though I know I would be a real hindrance on a mountain climb, I think I might be a good guy at a “smoker”.  I can definitely see myself in a crested blazer singing songs from the 1920s about exploring, the sea, and loneliness in the wilderness.  “That Miller is not much of an explorer, but I cried like a child when he sang by the piano.”

That’s the thing with time.  There is a limit to what you can accomplish.  While that guy that died of altitude sickness knew he was getting old for that climb, he figured he could push it.  I can’t help thinking he was embarrassed as he realized he was going to freeze into the side of the mountain.  “Dammit.  I should have just run a marathon…”  Still, I suppose once you stop trying to push the limits of what you can do, you have already started to die.  I will also note that had I been eaten by that shark a few months ago I would have been embarrassed when I looked down and noted I had no leg and was bleeding out.  “Dammit.  I should have swum with the dolphins…” 

I suppose the question is whether that climber wanted to have brandy and ruminate about his one previous failed attempt or just go for it on a second climb.  Clearly you can swagger around The Explorers Club confidently if you actually made it up Everest.  The only thing that would be close if you didn’t accomplish your goal is if you lose an eye on a narwhal tusk or if your foot froze off.  Personally, I think the eye patch would be better with the crested jacket, but that’s just my opinion.  No one in The Explorers Club wants to see a perfectly healthy man say things like “Oh yes, I had quite a journey in mind.  I was going to travel North and sleep in an igloo, but I didn’t get on the plane for the first part of the journey.  The quest fell apart after that.  I later went to Cancun.  I am mowing the lawn later today.”  There’s little doubt, unless I figure out something spectacular to do shortly, my application to The Explorers Club will look very thin indeed.  Why do I feel like I'm the loser and not the guy that froze on the mountain?


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