Mt. Ever Rest

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2011 at 10:40 am

“Oh, sick! That one still looks alive,” Corey stage whispered. At these altitudes, yelling was saved for your own life and death struggle, not those of the bodies littering the slopes of Mt. Everest. When we initially agreed to undertake the most arduous trek imaginable, we had no idea how much it would cost, or how many had died attempting to reach the summit.

I had written down my “bucket list” at Corey’s suggestion, three things I wanted to do before I died. Outrageous things. Things not to be shared with others at the risk of ridicule. He wrote his down as well, proceeding to tell me about his goals in great detail. We matched on two out of three, skydiving and climbing Mt. Everest. I did not share his passion for menage a trois, and kept my third goal to myself.

Skydiving was accomplished the next day. A real rush to be sure, but it was mostly a chance for us to discuss our epic journey to the Himalayas. We would take massive loans from our retirement plans, obtain top of the line equipment and training, and hire the best Sherpa guides available. We didn’t know about the bodies.

Most of them are very well preserved, nearly all wearing the brightly colored parkas and cutting edge mountaineering equipment of their day. Some are famous, like that of George Mallory, who fell to his death in 1924. Some are recent and anonymous, like the one we had just about stepped on.

“She could have made it if she had more oxygen,” Corey offered by way of sympathy. She lay on her back, no frostbite visible on her well-formed face. A stark warning of what might happen to us.

“Help me,” she croaked. “O two.”

“Shit! She’s alive!” Corey yelled as we both stumbled away from the non-corpse. “What are we gonna do?” he asked.

“Well, we sure as hell aren’t going to save her,” I began. “We are not going to turn back after coming this far, and there is no way we are gonna give her one of our oxygen tanks just so she can live another forty minutes. Besides, no one helped all these others on the way up, and she wouldn’t have stopped for us had the situation been reversed.”

“Crap, you are so cold. But right. You should say something to her at least, I don’t think I can handle it but someone’s got to say something, right?”

“I’ll take care of it. You go on ahead, we’ve wasted enough time already.”

As soon as my friend was out of sight, I approached the undead woman. She did not attempt to speak again, but her eyes reiterated her request. “O two” she had pleaded, “O two”.

I knelt beside her and rummaged in my pack, pulling out a piece of paper and a small tank of oxygen. Corey was long gone, he would never know about the tank. Gripping it tightly, I raised it high above my head, mouthed the words “thank you” to the woman, then smashed down once with all of my weight and conviction.

I stood, held the paper in both hands, and triumphantly made a mental checkmark after the third item on my list. If the mountain got me now, at least I would die complete.

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