When friends die on Everest
When I heard he reached the summit I was so certain of that he was strong enough to he’d get down again. As if the alternative didn’t even exist. Even though 80% of the accidents happen on the way down.
I know he really really wanted to reach the summit. It was his 4’th try (?) though some report says 5.
In the midst of sadness I’m happy he finally got to see the view from the top of the world.
One report says he had frostbite on fingers and eyes. It says he died in his sleep of altitude sickness.
I wonder if he knew. If he felt his last breath in camp 4.
I’m so so sorry.
For him and his family and friends.
Eric Arnold and me did our first 8000m expedition together. We were the same age with the same passion. We loved mountains. We both felt the calling of mount Everest as a childhood dream and trying to climb Cho Oyu together was supposed to be a good experience and training. We had lots of fun, made memories that are no longer shared by two. Eric was very wise and kind as a friend and climbing partner. We talked just a few weeks before he died. We agreed we’d try to climb another mountain together next year. After Everest.
This is the second climbing partner I loose on Everest. It’s not Everest’s fault. The mountain doesn’t kill people. But Everest is controversial. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone has heard something about something and takes it for a fact. But if you haven’t been there you have no idea what it’s like. Don’t believe everything you read.
It’s tough having friends in extreme sports. But maybe I appreciate them even more because I know that we’d better make the best we can if we don’t see each other again. Not taking life for granted might make us appreciate it more. It’s not something we say out loud every time, but I believe it’s there in the background of an adventurers friendship. But it makes it no easier when it happens. I don’t like when people say ‘he died doing what he loved’, as if it’s a valid explanation. But he did die living his big dream, which is somehow different.
People don’t talk much about death in general, trying to avoid thoughts about it. But the only thing certain in life is death. The time before that is all we really have in life. So what do you want to do while you are still alive? Those thoughts might make you live more, forgive more easily, be more kind and maybe not waste time complaining.
‘Normal’ people think we’re crazy ‘risking our lives’ to climb mountains. Those people doesn’t realise we’re not there with the intention ‘now I’m going to risk my life’. Instead we avoid as many risks as we can when climbing, by being well prepared and not go up when it doesn’t look good or the body is not well. But altitude sickness might sneak up on you.
It would be a greater risk for us to not do the thing we love the most. It would be a great risk living an entire life without feeling truly alive. I’m sure Eric felt the very essence of being alive when climbing.
We are all different. We experience life differently. Being judgemental and comparing just kills the possibility to learn and understand. I understand it is hard to understand for family and friends who are not in the mountains. I can’t imagine the horror his family is going through, and I send them my warmest thoughts. In mourning I went through photos and happy memories of hiking and climbing with him.