Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Here's one reason...

... why you should go to Sikkim.

Gocha Peak and the south-east face of Kanchenjungha, from a viewpoint near Gocha La, May 2005
(IIT Kanpur Adventure Sports Club trip)

PS: For a sense of scale, the S. Summit of K'jungha (in jetstream) is a little over 3.5 vertical km above us.

Photo courtesy Alok Sharan

Shreyansh has lots of other good reasons.

Rob McFarlane's recent book, Mountains of the Mind, tries to answer what exactly about mountains draws people to them so strongly. Judiciously mixing personal anecdotes and well-researched historical accounts, he presents an enthralling narrative, albeit slightly dated in its scope. The best part of the book is the section on the author's trip to the Tien Shan, camped on a glacier surrounded by unnamed peaks and utter desolation. McFarlane ends in slightly cliched fashion with a chapter on George Mallory, who died during his third Everest attempt and has come to symbolize man's obsession with the high mountains. Expedition colleague Noel Odell recalls that on June 8, 1924:
"The entire Summit Ridge and final peak of Everest were unveiled. My eyes became fixed on one tiny black spot silhouetted on a small snow-crest beneath a rock step in the ridge; the black spot moved. Another black spot became apparent and moved up the snow to join the other on the crest. The first then approached the great Rock Step and shortly emerged at the top; the second did likewise. Then the whole fascinating vision vanished, enveloped in cloud once more."
Neither Mallory nor his climbing companion Andrew Irvine were ever seen alive again, and whether they reached the summit or not (29 years before Hillary and Tenzing) is the greatest open question of mountaineering history (to add fuel to the fire, Mallory's petrified body was recently discovered on the talus slopes of Everest above 8000m).

A very good book, and unusual in its objective.

8 comments:

Vishnupriya said...

there's a lot of romanticism associated with mountains. i think its the whole man-vs-nature idea. oh, and amazing pic. i was looking through the flickr album, and some of the snaps are just WOW!

expiring_frog said...

@vishnupriya: Both -vs- and -in-, I would think.

Yes, Alok took some very nice pics on this trip.

Tenku for kind words.

Rimi said...

The torture us poor souls suffering from acute vertigo have to endure at such insensitive (and discriminatory) posts. If we see mountains, do we also not want to climb? Must you remind us of what we're missing? :P

expiring_frog said...

@rimi: Hey, I can't climb to save my life either. You can trek (i.e. walk) up to this point. There's really no "perched over a thousand-foot drop" feeling anywhere.

el rel said...

lovely picture, but why don't you post some more mountains? An account of the trek would be fun too

expiring_frog said...

It's a tad difficult to post mountains -- they don't fit into standard envelopes, you see.

But an account of the trek seems like a good idea.

Dusty said...

Gorgeous. Some how your blog name reminds me of our zoology practicals. Ugh... Don't worry, still addicted to your blog which I just about discovered, I think through Poison Pens's blog... was blog surfing.

expiring_frog said...

@dusty: The name is from some arbit doggerel (froggerel?). Thanks anyway :).