BY: TYLER FYFE
In 1922, George Mallory was asked by a journalist about why he would risk his life to be the first person to attempt to reach to summit of Mt. Everest? His profound response outlines an undeniably powerful way to perceive life.
Almost 30 years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay began their ascent, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine walked out of Darjeeling, India, toward Tibet. They would establish their basecamp on the terminal moraine of the Rongbuk Glacier.
What makes Mallory’s response so remarkable, is that he refused to compromise his beliefs despite the presence of perilous consequence. He had no conception of the impact his journey would have on capturing the imagination of a generation. He remained a ghost for 75 years and to this day, it is still unknown if he was truly the first to reach the summit of Everest over quarter of a century before the first recorded success.
“The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is no use.’ There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.”