Standing on the Shoulders of the Anonymous

Okay. I just read this article on CNN about how a slew of climbers hoping to get to the top of Mt. Everest are having to go away disappointed. Why? Because the Sherpas aren’t taking them to the top. There was a big accident a bit ago, and for various reasons, the Sherpas have individually decided not to go–whether it’s out of respect for the dead, fear for their own safety, or other reasons.

And I’m reading the article, and suddenly the ludicrousness of this whole situation became apparent to me. You hear about all these explorers who trek off to conquer Mt. Everest. How brave they are. How daring. And what happens when the Sherpas decide they personally don’t want to go on any of these expeditions?

Those brave, daring explorers pack up and go home. They realize that without the Sherpas, there’s not a chance in the world of them making it to the top of Mt. Everest.

Which leads me to wonder . . . just how brave and awesome are these explorers? Because I’ll tell you one thing you’re not reading at all: any articles about Sherpas wanting to go to the top of Everest but not being able to because the brave explorers won’t let them.

What this seems to be to me is nothing more than a bunch of rich people giving poor people a pittance in return for giving the rich people a piggyback ride to something the rich people can brag about later.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure those rich people are very brave and daring and all that (in comparison to me, at the very least), but if we broke it down a bit, what is is they’re accomplishing. Say there’s a river that’s swift and hard to cross. And an explorer comes along and says, “I want to cross that river, because I’m brave and daring. Is there anyone who will carry me across?” And a bunch of locals–who’ve crossed the river plenty of times–roll their eyes and say fine, and they carry the explorer across . . .

What exactly does that explorer have to brag about after the fact? You know what it reminds me of? Brave Brave Sir Robin.

If people want to do brave things, maybe they ought to do things they can do themselves. And if someone wants to focus on a person’s brave exploits, maybe they ought to focus on the people who make those exploits possible.

Then again, isn’t this what we seem to do as a people in general? Focus on the flashy and ignore the elements that make that flashy possible? The quarterback gets a lot of credit on the field, but without the offensive line, that QB ain’t doing a thing. (I know–I’m a BYU fan.) Can anyone think of other examples of this? Today’s blog post is basically a knee-jerk observation. I’d be interested to hear what other people have to say on the matter.

Speak up!

3 thoughts on “Standing on the Shoulders of the Anonymous”

  1. Just playing devils advocate, but I wonder, given that Everest is likely the source of most of Nepal’s tourist and perhaps international revenue, whether or not climbers are even allowed to ascend past the base camp without a sherpa. I think the answer to that question might inform my opinion a great deal more, but other than that I am soooooo with you on your “knee-jerk observation.”

  2. brian a. clements

    In “brave things” that I have done there was a lot of support. Sometimes those of us who only want to do something one or a few times will enlist the help of experts because if we didn’t we could seriously be hurt or injured. In doing an ironman triathlon I got help and coaching for biking and swimming and I went to a course that had plenty of assistance and help so I could make it. Oh by the way, I do brag about it although I received plenty of help.

  3. Ted–A very valid point. I admit I have no idea. 🙂

    Brian–Another valid point. I think what was really getting to me wasn’t the thought that people were doing this with help from others, but rather that people were doing it on the backs of others, and that’s something that strikes me as off. It would be like you running an ironman and having someone tow you half way through. Yes, you swam for the whole time, but if you only were able to finish because another pushed you through it, how much of a leg would you have to stand on with a brag?

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