Mountaineering is a popular pastime for the very adventurous and healthy. Climbing and scaling mountains incrusted with snow and ice for days at a time is an extremely difficult task and those who attempt it must be in excellent health and condition. There have been many “famous” mountaineers over the years and some have made quite a name for themselves such as Sir Edmund Hillary a mountaineer from New Zealand. Hillary’s most famous climb was the ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. According to records, the first bona fide climber of tall mountains was someone who was named Ötzi the Iceman, whose mummified body was found in the Alps at an elevation of around 3000 metres and thought to have been there for at least 5300 years! His discovery has been the subject of much study and research since it was found in 1991.
Mountaineering is a sport for some and profession for others
Many consider mountain climbing a sport or challenging hobby while some take it very seriously and have even made a profession out of scaling tall mountains. They rise to the challenge to prove something to themselves or gain recognition, fame, and fortune. Sponsorship makes financial gain possible for those who work hard to maintain the strength and health it takes for this rigorous task. Rock, ice, snow, and extreme weather conditions make for a risky yet rewarding lifestyle for those who take up the challenge. Women have also become adventurous and prominent as a result of their mountaineering skills. Annabelle Bond, who was born in 1969, is one of four British women to have climbed Mount Everest (2004). She went on to become the fastest woman to scale that famous mountain.
Climbing is an addictive pastime that reaps big rewards
Edward Whymper (another Londoner) was the first explorer and climber to ascend the Matterhorn back in 1865. His claim to fame on that particular climb may have been that he survived! Four members of the group he was with perished during the ascent.
Aron Lee Ralston, born in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA in 1975 made himself renowned by having to cut his own arm off in order to be freed after falling and being stuck between rocks for five days, seven hours. His perilous climb is depicted in a movie titled 127 Hours.
Major William Bill Tilman is another well known English explorer and mountaineer noted for his climbing in the Himalayans as well as sailing voyages.
Matthias Zurbriggen, born in Geneva in 1856 climbed the Alps extensively as a mountain guide and alpinist. He climbed the Aconcagua which is the highest peak of the Americas. He has a New Zealand mountain peak named after him, the Zurbriggen Ridge.
Reccardo Cassin, born in Italy in 1909 made over 2500 ascents and considered one of the leading mountaineers of his time.
George Mallory, noted Englishman and mountaineer became obsessed with the conquest of Mount Everest back in the 1920’s and upon his death his explanation of why he did it “Because it is there” caused him to become famous throughout the world.
Maurice Herzog, a Frenchman, was the first man to scale a peak over 8000 metres (8091m above sea level). He lost his gloves and nearly his life after developing painful frostbite on the fingers of both hands as well as some toes. He and his fellow climbers did make it down successfully however.
The above climbers and many others risk their lives but continue on, thriving on the challenge.