Mountains have fascinated man since time immemorial. Mountain climbing is a dangerous sport but it is filled with a strange romance and adventure which even the climbers cannot explain fully. It needs highest quality of heroic ability and endurance to climb mountains. The high risk it involves does not deter the climbers to undertake the task of climbing the highest peaks of the world.
The most challenging task of modern times was to conquer the highest peak of the world, Mount Everest. It was accomplished by Tenzing and Hillary in 1953. It was a great task admired by people throughout the world. Since then it has been a regular feature for the climbers of the world including many Indians to climb Mount Everest.
A mountaineer must possess the spirit of adventure which keeps him going on and on climbing till he reaches his goal. He must be willing to undertake risks and hardships while climbing narrow ledges and steep hill sides. He must possess extraordinary powers of perseverance to continue in the face, of the severest odds. Mountaineering is an organised sport. There are many regular institutes throughout the world where the sport is taught as a subject. Most sophisticated equipment is used to ensure the safety of climbers. The students in this field are given tough training in handly the equipment and taking care and caution while climbing. This has minimized the risk involved, but still there have been instances of the loss of many precious lives. The climbers have shown lots of heroic feats in climbing as well as saving the lives of their commerades in difficulties.
Mountain climbing is beset with difficulties. As one climbs up, the air becomes thinner and breathing becomes difficult. It is then that a steady supply of artificial oxygen is required and should be used by the mountaineer. The weather in the higher reaches is unpredictable. There may be a sudden storm or calm. In stormy weather the winds are so strong that one’s tent may be swept away. It might start snowing while one is going uphill and the mountaineer has to keep going inspite of it. The adventurous mountaineer takes these problems easily in his stride, and his sense of purpose and the goal of reaching the top keeps him going. He walks through soft snow in which he may sink knee-deep or on ice on which he has to cut steps in order to climb up. He has to keep himself well covered otherwise he is in danger of getting frost bite and that portion of his body is in danger of becoming totally numb or even useless if the blood circulation is not rejuvenated swiftly. Thus while powers of physical endurance are essential, a mountaineer also should possess spiritual qualities of mind and heart which gives him his strong will power and the optimism that he can and will achieve success in his endeavour.
The mountaineer is full aware of the dangers and risks involved and fearlessly and bravely attempts it knowing fully well that he might never return. But it is the thrill of scaling the torturous mountains, the intoxication of reaching the top after surmounting the most treacherous of paths and the supreme beauty of the snow covered peaks that makes him climb mountains again and again.
Thus, mountain climbing is one of the most dangerous and challenging of sports. It is a sport of only the brave and the hardy and brings out the most heroic and brave qualities of Man.