Mt Everest has been in the news a bit recently, one story detailing the callous disregard of a dying climbers life, who was passed by perhaps 40 other climbers as he sat in the “death zone” region and died, another story telling of the miraculous discovery and rescue of a climber presumed dead who weathered a night on the mountainside and was discovered alive the next morning. Mt Everest demonstrates quite clearly what happens when something extremely dangerous and unpredictable becomes commodified. People pay thousands of dollars to reach the summit of the world’s highest peak with the aid of mountaineering guide companies (much of the money, of course, going to the Nepalese government, who has no interest in attempting to diminish the increasing overcrowdedness of expeditions every year).
Which brings up an interesting ethical question: if you had paid 10,000 dollars in order to summit the highest peak in the world, and you were perfectly aware–just as anyone who will take up the trek is–that you are extremely vulnerable to lack of oxygen, frostbite, unpredictable weather, etc, and that you are putting your life at risk–if you were summiting, and you passed by a man or woman sitting on a rock, obviously in need of oxygen and assistance, would you help them, even though it would mean giving up the chance to summit and say that you had stood at the top of the world?
Bear in mind that you would not be thinking clearly at all, being as that you would not be receiving enough oxygen to your brain. Bear in mind that you had paid 10,000 bones for this, for the claim of having climbed Mt Everest. If you don’t summit, you can’t make that claim. Bear in mind that the man or woman sitting on the rock is with a guided expedition, who supposedly should be keeping tabs on their own team members.
What would you do?
Do you care for a random stranger, or do you fulfill your ambition?