<photo: my first view of Mount Everest in the distance as seen from plane taking off from Paro Airport, Bhutan>
it's known as Sagarmāthā (brow of the sky) in Nepal. it's Chomolungma (Goddess Mother of the Earth) in Tibet. for many it's known as Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. straddling the border of Nepal and Tibet, Everest is 8,848 metres above sea level.
for some, reaching the summit of Everest is their purpose in life. since 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man to reach the summit of Everest, over 4,000 people have achieved the same feat.
it takes about two months to climb Mount Everest, from the time you leave home and arrive safely back. you start with a 5 hour flight from Singapore to Kathmandu. from Kathmandu, it takes about a week to get to the Everest base camp. once you are at base camp, you spend four weeks doing acclimatization climbs up and down Everest. the final summit push takes one week. this is a good video on the entire route from base camp to the summit of Everest.
given it's challenges, climbing Mount Everest is obviously not everyone's cup of tea. but once you have decided to climb Everest, the physical and mental preparation and endurance, and the financial and emotional commitment is tremendous . even though many Everest climbers may not reach the summit, just getting to base camp is an extraordinary achievement.
"The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest ?' and my answer must at once be, 'It is no use'.
There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation.
But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It's no use.
So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man 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.
What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for."
- George Leigh Mallory, English mountaineer who may have been the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1924.