Monday, October 8

Raymond E - Distillation of views

As we near the end of this chapter of the blog, ‘Mumsie’ would like to enter the following quote:
“The charm of mountain-climbing lies not in the climbing in success, nor in failure, but in the great range of emotions provoked through these physical experiences.” [FS Smythe]

As the Scrappy Scribe, I too would like to append some thoughts of the subject. Hoseman/Mark has used this quote from Mallory (which I heartily endorse) in the introduction to his blog site:
“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.”

Mallory is of course better known for his more famous other quote. When asked at a lecture why he climbed Everest, he replied, “Because it is there.”
In his book Four Against Everest, Woodrow Wilson Sayre says: “Many people have been tremendously impressed with this answer. I think it is a tribute to their vivid imaginations. For, as it stands, it really doesn’t say anything. It is too ambiguous.” Sayre then attempts to interpret what Mallory might have meant, by suggesting his answer to mean, “because it is a challenge.” But the question remains: why is it a challenge? Why does it challenge that particular breed of men called mountaineers, whereas the vast majority couldn’t care less?
At first Sayre was puzzled why the question couldn’t just be answered “I climb mountains because I like to” in the same way someone else would say, “I play tennis because I want to”. But then he felt the questioner was really asking why a mountaineer would choose to do so when faced with all the obvious and major negatives such as: “This mountain climbing business is dangerous. It costs money. It is hard exhausting work. You have to disrupt the family to do it, etc etc”.
Being a mountaineer himself, Sayre decided the following reasons suited him. First on his list (but not necessarily first in importance) Sayre rated Beauty. “If a person would cross the ocean just to look at the beauty of a cathedral, why would he not do as much or more to see these magnificent mountains?” Next, echoing Smythe, are the special Emotions which the high and wild peaks provoke. “I feel a special happiness to be alone in the high, silent places of the world tucked close under the sky. Such things are worth a little insecurity and sacrifice.” Paradoxically, mountains also provide both Companionship and Solitude. The deepest friendships spring from sharing failure as well as success, danger as well as safety. The friendships thus established are lasting and irreplaceable. As far as solitude is concerned, Sayre holds: “A man must refill the inner springs of his being in solitude and reflection – there is a deep inner need for this. Without this refilling, life becomes increasingly hurried, it becomes increasingly mechanical and it becomes increasingly insensitive. People are wonderful, but an infinite number of them are not.”
I might venture here to include the Body Physical. Who cannot fail to notice the satisfaction, even pride, as Hoseman describes how his subsequent efforts up and down the slopes at high altitude and in onerous conditions were completed in less time and with less effort – a real show of strength and fitness and rewarding acclimatisation.
Sayre concludes: “Contemplating all the values achieved by climbing mountains, I am tempted yet again to try the impossible and summarise it all in a single sentence. Men climb mountains because they are not satisfied to exist, they want to live – climbing the heights is one way.”
This largely accords with Eric Shipton who says:
“He is lucky who, in the full tide of life, has experienced a measure of the active environment that he most desires. In these days of upheaval and violent change, when the basic values of today are the vain and shattered dreams of tomorrow, there is much to be said for the philosophy which aims at living a full life while the opportunity offers. There are few treasures of more lasting worth than the experience of a way of life that is, in itself, wholly satisfying. Such, after all, are the only possessions of which no fate, no cosmic catastrophe can deprive us; nothing can alter the fact if for one moment in eternity we have really lived.”
So, in conclusion, I say “Go for it!” My only personal bone of contention is that I believe such experiences do not necessarily emanate ONLY from sources on such a grand and massive scale. We don’t always HAVE to find an Everest to experience adventure and life - one can still enjoy Sayre’s list of values as much at 1000m as at 8000m.

1 comment:

  1. Oi, you old goat !

    Been looking for you all over .. I searched for 'Mark Hose' in Google and I got hose pipe, mark a host pipe .. but no Hoseman !

    Give me a call sometime 01908 240 793 .. I see you are still trying to climb mountains !!

    Love to Claire

    Zak, Aida, Alan and Adam


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