The current mountain climber’s lament is that it sure is hard to make a name for yourself these days. That’s been true since Sir Edmund Hillary first climbed Everest in 1953. Note: I remembered Hillary’s name but the more recent accomplishments I’ve had to look up.
You’ve probably heard of the Seven Summits challenge where mountain climbers climb the highest mountain on each continent. Bass first suggested it and in 1985, achieved it.
It was pointed out by Messner that the highest peak in the Australian continent is actually Puncak Jaya in the island nation of Indonesia and not Mount Kosciuszko in Australia. Morrow first completed this new list in 1986.
Today over 200 people have achieved either list of the seven peaks. Some have achieved both. I dare anyone to memorize all their names (the list of presidents of the US is easier). I certainly am not going to bother.
And why didn’t Messner complete his own list first? Simply because he was too busy climbing the 14 biggest peaks, all of which are in Asia.
If these three lists of summits aren’t enough, the Seven Second Summits was proposed. That is where one scales the second highest summit on each continent. K2, the Asian second highest mountain is supposed to be a harder climb than Everest. That feat, combined with the other 6, was first achieved by Kammerlander in 2012.
There seems to be nowhere a young mountaineer can make a name for himself. Except…
A few of the best of the world’s space programs are thinking of going to the moon. And why not? There is known to be water in at least some parts of the moon.
Perhaps some enterprising mountaineer can persuade whatever country to land near the moon’s biggest peak – Mons Huygens. Said mountaineer would then climb it and have a first for themselves as well as for the country that landed there.
But wait, why stop there? Maybe we should go to the biggest peak in the solar system – Olympus Mons on Mars.
If you you have your ear to the ground you’ve probably heard of the private nonprofit, Mars One, which intends to land people on Mars, without a way to return, by 2023. So far they’ve been relatively benign – only charging money for people applying to be their astronauts.
But you know they are going to try to make their money off the reality series they intend to become. For lack of a better term, I call this future show “Deathwatch, 2023”.
Sure they might be able to successfully launch the crew to Mars and even have them land safely. But I strongly doubt they will be able to launch enough equipment to keep all the crew alive indefinitely which is what they must do to be good citizens. And the crew’s descendants. Basically this is a forever duty.
Still, some mountaineer could be drawn to a different type of immortality. They could go to Mars and then simply knowing the mission is doomed, can spend their time on the important things like scaling Olympus Mons.
And does someone, anyone know why the second highest mountain on Earth is called K2 when we’ve already properly named many, many mountains on other planets and moons? [June 1,2013 add on] My own suggestions for naming K2 include: Mt. Almost, Mt. Not Quite, and my personal favourite – Mt. Everer.