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"Arguments For Ascent"
By Dave Rodney   Printer Friendly Version

~ What is the compulsion that drives people to attempt to climb and succeed at summiting the highest mountain in the world? ~
And how can this knowledge assist you (and those around you) in the discovery and utilization of hidden gifts and talents, true motivations, optimal strategies, and worthwhile goals … on the journey of fulfilling one's call, vocation, and mission?

Why do we do some of the risky things we do? How is it that we are drawn to activities which are potentially so rewarding, yet so hazardous? What is the explanation as to why people put it "all on the line" at work, at home, and at play? Where does this passion come from, and how do we best utilize it?

To answer these questions, I submit this short piece, which reflects my experience of climbing to the roof of the planet and back…


George Leigh Mallory, who may have been the first person to climb Mt. Everest in 1924 (although he did not make it down alive), once told a reporter "if you cannot understand that there is something in us which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself, upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go." However, he was quoted as simply saying he wanted to climb the peak "because it was there". What most people do not realize is that Mallory was forced into this reply after wasting a frustrating half hour fruitlessly hoping to enlighten a reporter who simply could not relate to his designs.

Nevertheless, in the decades of "Everest Endeavors" since the mountain's first disciple, this sound bite has been referred to again and again…and there is definitely something Zen to it. The answer to the question may be in discovering the "it", that "is there". For some, climbing provides the perfect wilderness antidote to the stresses of an overly competitive society: a source of power, wisdom, and creativity. For others, it fosters the opportunity to see exactly what they can physically accomplish, and mentally endure. Some people climb to find out what their limits are, and discover just how far they can push them.

Many adventurers "head for the hills" for the purposes of experiencing other cultures and forging life-long relationships. In so doing, they learn to totally depend on and trust in themselves, their climbing partners, and their environment. In the process, these "thrill-seekers" often experience closeness with creation and the creator, and may learn a little about what cosmic unity is all about. However, some climbers "get vertical" for the simple natural high they get from it: a number of these people are hopelessly addicted to the adrenaline that accompanies such "straight up" adventures. Finally, many mountaineers continue to climb because they have looked death in the face, and have lived to tell the tale--returning to everyday existence, cherishing every single moment of life we so often take for granted, knowing how close they came to losing it all.


While there are may be as many reasons for climbing as there are climbers, one thing remains constant: all of the climbers I know do not possess a death wish, but rather, a life-wish…they want to live it to the full!

Mountaineering provides us with a level playing field...something, which is all too rare in our contemporary career-oriented society. No one can vault over another to achieve power or prestige on a mountain, and no one can pull rank on you up there. Public relations, politics, fast-talking, and good connections do not help above basecamp. No one else can climb a mountain for you. Climbing may indeed be the most solitary of all team events: it is the classic conflict between the human and the natural, as well as the human and the supernatural. The mountain does not care if you have a masters degree, possess an incredible resume, have a great-paying job, are a fabulous parent, or are particularly religious. On the mountain, you are on your own to fight all of your demons: emotional, physical, social, and spiritual…

>>>for more on this story, please visit: www.daverodney.com

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