We talk extensively about the ideals of resilience and having purpose; the desire for us to challenge ourselves to accomplish the extraordinary. These are important pursuits, equally as important is the question we must ask ourselves about why we do it.
I was listening to a recorded interview with Sir Edmund Hillary, the discussion was about the line that mountain climbers are required to stand in to reach the summit of Mount Everest. On 29 May 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa from Nepal, became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest. They climbed from the south side on a British expedition lead by Colonel John Hunt. This was a truly extraordinary feet of human endurance at that time.
Sir Edmund was commenting on the commercialisation of this climb, he sadly referenced how few climbers were now doing it because of a love of the mountain, and an intrinsic desire to achieve. Rather it was about a selfie at the top and bragging rights at the bottom.
The discussion following the remarks by Sir Edmund further questioned the validity of these climbers’ achievements. A huge change in Everest over the last 15 years has been the explosive growth in commercial operators who used to have a ratio of 1 Sherpa to 5 members but today it can easily be 2 Sherpas for each member. This increase in support has been driven by more inexperienced members, offloading gear to Sherpas, more oxygen and high-end guides who market that there will always be a Sherpa climbing by your side. In 1992, when commercialisation began on the south side, 22 Sherpa and 65 members summited. In 2017, it was 212 Sherpas and 199 members who summited.
It is hard to credit your climb when each night your Sherpa can make as many as 20 return trips with the excess equipment so that the following day a climb can transit the same distance once.
Just this month a clean-up expedition to Mount Everest has removed 11 tonnes (11,000 kilos) of rubbish. Sherpas spent weeks collecting food wrappings, cans, bottles and empty toxic cylinders, according to the Nepal Tourism Department.
In our lives, it is an important reminder that just achievement without regard for those around us, supporting us and climbing by our side or cleaning up after us, is not enough. To achieve something truly great we must earn it, acknowledge and revere our achievement. But we must also do it with a respect and appreciation of those around us.
I wish all our families as we move into our winter holiday, a wonderful break, hopeful you will all have some time to spend recharging. The Primary and Middle years will have survived parent teacher nights and our Senior boys will have a short respite as they begin to prepare for their Trial HSC Examinations.
Getting to the top of the world needs to be about more than bragging rights and if the only way you got there was almost literally on the shoulders of others, be sure to acknowledge them as a significant part of your success.
Congratulations to current parent Lucy Brogden who was awarded a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2019.
Lucy received her award for significant service to workplace mental health and wellbeing.
Rest in Peace
Your prayers are requested for the McKnight family following the recent passing of Noel McKnight (Class of 1962).
May the Lord welcome Noel into his kingdom of peace.