Age, National Pride and Everest

Happy Veterans Day and Remembrance Day from the Suburban Mountaineer!  And also, to my friends and family from the U.S. Marines, I want to wish a belated Happy Birthday to the Marine Corps.  Without the service of our veterans and armed forces, the conditions that we as Americans and Canadians hike, climb, explore and travel in general could be very, very different.

You may have already heard that a nine-year old Sherpa, Tseten, may become the youngest person to reach the top of Mount Everest(29,035 ft./8,848 m.).  He would beat Justin Romero of California who sended the mountain earlier this year at age 16.

There is controversy and it is two-fold: 1) Shortly after Romero topped out, age limits were set on both sides of the border on Everest; and 2) Tseten’s attempt would be against the new limit and carry a fine (hence everyone’s use of the word illegal.)

I have written about this before and I still feel that such an adventure, at Tseten’s age — about third grade in the states, that he can climb but not without a great deal of support from the adults on the expedition.  I was a little older when I started backpacking and climbing and I could not have done any of it at that age on my own.

To Tseten’s credit, however, he reportedly did summit on  Mount Ramdung (19,440 ft./5,925 m.) in northern Nepal with his father Pemba Dorje Sherpa.  It is Pemba Dorje that is the instigator in all of this.  Pemba Dorje holds the record for the fastest ascent of Mount Everest and he is quite passionate that all records on this mountain must be held by the Nepalese people.

Pemba Dorje is also confident in the aims of this pursuit of the Nepalese record that the authorities would support an exception — which, we now know, is not the case.

Again, I think Tseten should be allowed to climb Everest, but only once he has put in his time, demonstrated competence and reliability in the mountains.  That may mean he is 12 years old or 16 when he is ready.

My last point is about the policies on climbing Mount Everest or any mountain.  The laws or morality should always govern among the peaks above all else– meaning, take care of yourself, do no harm to your fellow climber and help whenever it is needed.  But in general, while I accept (but not necessarily support) user fees, I am annoyed by restrictions and guides on the principle that the mountains are the last truly wild place on earth.  Perhaps young people and older people should not climb high, but aren’t there always outliars capable of breaking through what we think are limitations for everyone?

I would like to know your thoughts on this topic, so feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email at SuburbanMountaineer@yahoo.com.  And remember, you may follow the Suburban Mountaineer on Facebook.

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