Thursday, May 8, 2008

At the top of the world

Though I've been cheering on the human rights protesters who tried to disrupt China's Olympic torch relay (and successfully snuffed out the flame in Paris!), I must admit I got teary-eyed with awe when I saw the pictures of the torch being brought to the summit of Mt Everest by a 19-member assault team.

Symbolically, the team was made up mostly of Tibetans.

On summit day, they broke camp at dawn and reached the summit six hours later, where they waved the Olympic flag to mark the moment.

It was a pretty awe-inspiring image.

(Photo courtesy of Washington Post/Getty Images)

I also love how one of the team members has a crazy-looking oxygen mask on while the others do not. Are their lungs that much better?

(Photo courtesy of Washington Post/Getty Images)

Apparently the torch was designed by rocket scientists, and is able to withstand the lack of oxygen at that elevation.

And yes, I realize that I completely fell for all the feel-good propaganda as intended, but it's very hard not to. Reaching the summit of Mt Everest is a truly amazing feat, especially because it is by no means guaranteed and a lot of people have died trying. You have to be in peak physical and mental shape to even make it past base camp. And consider that the area of the final assault to the summit on that last day is called the "death zone."

I have been fascinated with Everest stories for so long. It's my dream to someday visit the base camp in Nepal (if I don't faint first) - a friend of mine made this trip and his stories about it are wonderful.


Karmela said...

I love it that the climbers are called an "assault team." How appropriate. They really are equivalent to a group of Navy SEALS in physical fitness, smarts and courage. And in a way, they are trying to defeat that mountain. I highly recommend Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air."

Hazel Designs said...

K, I've heard of that book and been meaning to read it! I heard it's really good.