Thursday, March 25, 2010

heaven on earth

“Dead Woman’s Pass” is the highest point on the Inca Trail. It's peak is just hovering above 14,000 feet. As you might be able to see in this picture, the pass is named for the shape of the mountain, which looks like the silhouette of a reclining woman. C'mon, see the nipple? I sat on that nipple!

The peak of Mount Everest is 29,000 feet. So the highest point that I've reached on this planet, was half that of what George Mallory and Andy Irvine reached (by all accounts) in 1924.

Did you hear me? 1924. They did this 86 years ago, so you can imagine that they didn't have gortex, dry-fit or MEC. They did have one key piece of apparel - an oxygen tank. And as someone that has experienced 14,000 feet above sea level - it took many baby steps, several breaks leaning on a walking stick and many, many coca leaves. So an oxygen tank was key to their success.

Last night, I finished reading Paths of Glory by Jeffery Archer. Dad bought me the book for Christmas. It's a tale about the life of George Mallory and his passion to be the first person to reach the top of Mount Everest. I will say this, the first 75% of the book was a bit of a bore. The 25% that I was interested in was at the end, and I'm sure it was the reason dad bought me the book in the first place - the part where you hear the tales about Mallory's attempts to reach the peak of the tallest mountain in the world. Simply humbling.

The thing about a place in time is that at the core, we're all the same. Over time not much changes when it comes to personal passion, wants, desires, needs and dreams. The one thing that does change over time are the tools and technology to enhance our path to glory (if we so choose glory as our destination). And while climbers of Everest today still have the same incredible challenge as Mallory did in 1924. It's leaders like Mallory that are most admirable - they achieve what we can today with so much less to aid them along the way. I realized when closing the book for the final time last night that when it comes to pushing our mental and physical boundaries (hiking, running, climbing, biking, etc) no amount of technology or new-age thinking changes our path. We still have to climb on our own.

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