What Is So Wonderful About Climbing Mount Everest?

by Bob Schwartz

Hotel Mount Everest

Climbing Mount Everest is special. Unless you’re from Tibet:

Human beings are capable of so much endeavor, even in small matters. People spend their lives trying to measure the height of mountains or the depth of the sea. These provide useful information, but they may not prove significant in the long run. For example, we Tibetans could never understand why people climbed mountains for no reason. The mountaineers would say, “I am doing an expedition on Mount Everest,” as if it were the most important thing in the world. They would spend so much time and money; they would even risk, and sometimes lose, their lives. We would wonder if they were mad, and ask, “What do you get when you reach the top?” They replied, “Oh, it is just wonderful!” We would say, “What is so wonderful in that cold wind?” The answer was, “Oh, it is so exciting!” It might seem wonderful, but it will only last a short time, and it is only wonderful if you consider it wonderful. Someone else might think that the most wonderful thing is being curled up, warm and snug, in a cozy bed. To me, for instance, that is much more wonderful.

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche in Radical Compassion: Shambhala Publications Authors on the Path of Boundless Love. Available free.