Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 12 January 2015
I almost understand... almost...
As I write this, there are a couple of blokes climbing up a sheer, 3000 foot rock-face in Yosemite National Park, and they begun their ascent on the 27th of December. My life would be totally different now if I had been born with a similar driving ambition and didn't like lying in bed in the warm as much as possible in the Winter.
I mean, for a start, why choose mid-Winter for the hardest climb in the world? Why not a pleasantly temperate week or two in the Spring? I mean, really, why not?
I heard today that they have spent three days trying to scale a 7 foot section above them, and have had to stop to allow the skin to grow back around the split ends of their fingers. I mean, really.
Then you remember that they have to haul up all their food and equipment (suspended tent, etc.) as well, and THEN you remember that they have to get back down again, but maybe a mate will pick them up from the top in a helicopter - or is that cheating?
You have to be quite wealthy to climb Everest these days - not only by being able to afford the gear for the entire team, but also to be able to pay the fees to the Sherpas plus the licence fee to the government, which has just been doubled to - I think - $40,000. What do you get for your money? I don't think anyone goes looking for you if you fail to come back down, because other climbers are full of stories about walking past frozen bodies of other climbers on their way up.
"Oh look! There's that woman who went up in 1995 - doesn't she look young?" (Apparently being frozen solid has the same effect as thousands of pounds-worth of beauty treatment down here).
I hope the climbers took head-cams with them, because the world's media are now flocking to Yosemite to record the event from a mile below, and I am sure they could do a deal which would more than cover their sponsorship.
I saw a little film a few years ago, where a woman free-climber arrived in an African village which was overshadowed by a great volcanic plug with a flat top and sheer wall, probably about 1000 feet high.
She had a quick chat with the women of the village, who told her that the plateau had been the stuff of myth and legend since pre-history and was reputed to be the home of the gods, but nobody had ever been up there to check.
She smiled and thanked them, took out a bag of powder from her waistband and sprinkled a bit of it onto her hands, then marched toward the rock-face.
She was up there in about 3 minutes, then stood waving at them from the top. This impressed the shit out of them, but I don't know what it did to the local folklore.