Today in the news I came across an article celebrating the achievement of an Austrian woman Mrs Kaltenbrunner. She has become the first woman to climb all Himalyan summits above 14,000ft without bottled oxygen. She had apparently failed six previous attempts to climb K2 before being successful.
The typical response to such news is to celebrate it, to see it as a great feat of human endeavour and achievement. To marvel at the ability of the human person who has been able to overcome many adversities to reach the summit. Stories are told of the many hazards that climbers encounter during such trips and the enormous effort that is required to overcome the many challenges……such that when they succeed it is seen as a triumph for them individually and also for humanity. It is as if we have somehow collectively participated in pushing the human body beyond recognised boundaries, pushed it to the limits of its capabilities and that this is something to marvel at, something to be celebrated.
What if we have been led astray in our understanding of the human person to falsely believe that celebrating such acts is a good thing to do? When we look through the lens of the heart, the lens of love, then these acts are not celebrated as great achievements but are known to be totally love-less. There is nothing loving about pushing the body through such conditions that it may lose toes and fingers or even its life. There is nothing loving about putting the heart and lungs under such strain that they be overcome with pulmonary oedema. It requires an enormous effort to over-ride the true messages of the body that say ‘this is harming me’, ‘this is damaging me’, ‘I am in pain’, ‘please stop’, in order to perform such feats. The body is the marker of truth – if mountian climbers began to listen to their body instead of ignoring and over-riding its messages then perhaps they would begin to feel the real harm they are doing to themselves and choose otherwise.
Do you feel mountain climbing is a good thing to do or do you feel it is harming? Feel free to share your views.