Monday, May 15, 2017

“Do You Really Want to Die on This Hill?” one oft-unheeded rhetorical question goes. 

Fun fact: Towards the summit of the world’s tallest mountain are the corpses of climbers who perished during their climb. As Everest is one of those mountains that requires pickaxes and rope and such to get up, trying to bring those bodies down would likely only result in more dead bodies. 

The ground is too rocky and frozen to bury them, and the atmosphere is thin, dry, and cold all year ‘round. There are no animal scavengers, not even insects to break down the cadavers. So there they lie, right where they fell, from starvation, exhaustion, hypoxia, whatever. They will likely lie there until the end of time or someone gets really irritated with the idea of them being there, whichever comes first.

The latter is not likely. Many of these dead bodies near the summit have been there so long, they’re used as directional markers for climbers. So they didn’t die entirely in vain. They now serve as frozen meat signposts, which is probably more useful than they ever were in life.

This brings to mind another popular aphorism, “You can either serve as an inspiration to others, or a warning.” Or maybe just a frozen meat signpost. Again, useful.