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Friday, December 15, 2006

Hoping for the Best

It's a nasty week in the mountain world, as two dramas are playing out with all-too-possible lethal results. On Mt. Hood, searchers are still struggling through violent storms to search for three climbers who did not return from a summit attempt last weekend. The weather on Hood is apocalyptic this week, but hopes are kept alive for at least one of the climbers, who phoned from a snow cave near the summit on Sunday and who apparently has been switching his phone on and off since then. Meanwhile, Christine Boskoff and Charlie Fowler are overdue from a two-month expedtion to central China. The two climbers, among the most experienced mountaineers in the U.S., were due to fly to Denver on December 4. There's information on how to contribute to the search effort here, and Alpinist has done a good report on the search.

I remain perhaps irrationally optimistic in both cases. The climbers on Hood were experienced and, despite media reports to the contrary, reasonably prepared for the route; the fact that at least one of them was dug into a snow cave is a good sign. And Fowler has been doing walkabouts in China and Tibet for more than a decade—he rarely applies for permission or tells people exactly where he's going. He knows these little-explored mountains perhaps better than any Westerner, and has expressed his deep empathy for them and for the Tibetan people in evocative photographs like these Polaroid transfers from Kham, the area where he and Boskoff were traveling this fall, reproduced from Fowler's web site. Charlie is also a survivor of the first order, including walking (or crawling) away from a 400-foot fall off Longs Peak and a 1,000-foot fall in Asia. And so I am hopeful that he and Boskoff either saw something good and just decided to extend their trip and go for it, or that they ran into some trouble but soon will be walking back into a village in China, hungry and exhausted, with yet another amazing tale to tell.


Anonymous said...

You know, every douchebag, thrill seeking mountain climber aught to sign a waiver that if lost, the family NOT the government should be responsible for the rescue effort. I cannot imagine if I lost a wife or husband or friend or whatever who was out in a hellicopter trying to find one of these self apointed daredevils. Mountain climbing is a HOBBY. Mountain climbers need to take into account that they place INNOCENT people in harm's way just cuz "it was there". Just to feed some man vs. nature ego trip. Why can't ya just take up Russian Roulette as a hobby and spare the good men and women who are out trying to rescue real victims? Why is your ego so inflated that you risk rendering your families fatherless or motherless or whatever. It amazes me the number of these idiots who are married with children. This, in my opinion constitues family neglect by willingly placing your family in harm's way so you can have something to brag about. I hope those men out there died suffering, because it'll be nothing compared to the suffering they caused DOZENS of people who have regular, uninflated egos. With HDTV there is no risk. THINK ABOUT THIS PEOPLE......

chadmichael said...

Anonymous, if you had a valid point buried amid your callousness, it has been lost, swallowed up in your depths of unfeeling, empty soul. And I mean this.

Will Gadd said...

Anon--Eat another meal at McDonald's, smoke a pack a day, drive yer SUV in circles while doing both, but don't expect me to pay for your totally unecessary hospital "rescue." Better yet, lock our sorry ass up in a padded room just so you don't accidentially die from living. Yep, it sure is better to sit at home watching HDTV and crunching down on the old artery blocker chips than to actually get out and LIVE. Do you take the bus because driving your car is more dangerous? Didn't think so.

As for the kid and family neglect, I'd rather my dad died doing something meaningful to him than in front of the HDTV. Rescuers do take risks, but almost all of them also climb and understand the game--have a little respect for them, they know what they are doing and choose to do so.

Charlie is the farthest thing from a "bragger," he is a solid guy you would have been proud to count as your friend. Charlie's friends are looking for him because they care enough to do so--Charlie would do the same. Piss off with your idiotic rambling on something you know nothing about.