Authorities in Nepal will install a ladder to provide a shortcut over a steep cliff near the peak of Mount Everest. A government spokesman said the ladder would ‘ease congestion’ for climbers on their way to the summit.
Hm… As a guy with exactly zero aspirations to climb the world’s highest mountain (or indeed anything higher than that brick of mango ice cream at the back of the freezer) excuse me for asking but … isn’t the whole point of climbing Mount Everest the fact that there are no ladders?
Isn’t climbing Mount Everest supposed to be hard? And dangerous? And uncomfortable? If not, why not install a series of heated escalators from base camp?
Why not hot air balloons with celebrity hosts? (Kim Kardashian does Katmandu!).
Sixty years ago Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay ascended Everest wearing wool and leather.
They wouldn’t recognize the be-Spandexed, Rolexed and oxygen-bottled tourists who ascend the peak in catered droves these days.
Modern day Everest wannabes aren’t so much brave and hardy; more rich and bored.
Why do we make it so difficult to be heroic anymore?
In some quarters, ‘hero’ has become a dirty word.
At a Pennsylvania preschool, ‘super hero play’ and ‘monster games’ have been banned because school authorities fear they make kids ‘dangerously overactive’.
One child came home and told his mother that “make-believe isn’t allowed at school anymore.”
Closer to home, there’s the case of Briar McDonnell.
Briar’s a Grade Seven student in Calgary who saw a kid being harassed by another student. The boy was being taunted, pushed and prodded.
And then there was the knife.
Briar didn’t see it, but his classmates did and Briar ‘heard the flick’.
Nevertheless, Briar stepped in and pushed the bully away. A teacher intervened, the principal was called and…
Brian was commended, right? Congratulated? Singled out at assembly as a good guy? Given honourable mention in the school yearbook?
Nah. He was hauled down to the principal’s office and treated like a criminal. The police were summoned and Briar’s locker was searched.
His mother was called and told that her son had been “involved in an incident” in which he “decided to play hero and jumped in”.
“We don’t condone heroics,” the principal harrumphed. Briar, she explained, should have gone off and found a teacher to handle the situation.
Briar’s mother wondered if perhaps, in the time it would have taken Briar to find a teacher, the victim’s throat might have been slit. The principal said that was ‘beside the point’.
Mrs. McDonnell didn’t agree.
“What are they teaching them?” she asked a National Post reporter. “That when you go out in the workforce and someone’s not nice to you, you have to tattle to your boss?
“What are we going to do if there are no heroes in the world? There would be no police, no fire, no armed forces…”
And probably no more people like Yuichiro Miura.
The Japanese climber reached the peak of Mount Everest last month, becoming the oldest person to do so. Mister Miura is 80 years old.
And no, he didn’t need a ladder.
Arthur Black is a regular columnist. He lives on Salt Spring Island.