Mt. Everest – Am I Orville Wright if I fly a Plane?

Norgay atop EverestThere’s an awful story in the news about a group of people killed in an avalanche at Mount Everest and it made me consider the nature of achievement.

The tragedy killed at least thirteen Sherpa guides on the mountain last week. When I first read the story I wondered why only guides were killed and no climbers. It’s because climbing Mount Everest has become more of an expensive tourist attraction than a glorious achievement.

The Sherpas were setting up ropes and supply camps along the route that the “climbers” were to take later this year. Getting to the summit of Mount Everest was once a very difficult thing and required tremendous skill, stamina, and sheer guts. The first men atop the mountain were Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and his companion New Zealand mountain climber Edmund Hillary on May 29, 1953. The courage of those men and the others before them who failed or died trying is not to be doubted.

On May 23, 2010 a total of 169 people reached the summit. That one day total represented more people than had been to the top since the first summit in 1953.

At this point the well-funded tourists wait in line to get to the top aided by the Sherpas who set up equipment and ropes for them to use. It is still an arduous trip to be certain but is it an achievement? That’s my question.

Orville and Wilbur Wright were the first to fly a plane. A lot of people fly planes today and it is still an accomplishment. Getting your pilot’s license is not easy. Ascending to the top of Mount Everest is not easy.

A real achiever by the name of Reinhold Messner said, … a mountain without danger is not a mountain.

So why are people with little to no climbing experience paying up to $80,000 to get to the top of Mount Everest? Why are they waiting in line on the few good days a year it’s possible to reach the peak?

I think it’s because they yearn to achieve something great. That’s a fantastic and deeply ingrained human desire. Each time I near the completion of a new novel I dream that it will be lauded as a great piece of literature to be read throughout the ages. I dream about making riches as well, but the underpinning is always the idea that I will have accomplished something that gives others inspiration and joy.

This is a wellspring of humanity that Ayn Rand speaks about in her novels. This is the underlying force that drives the philosophy of Objectivism. It’s not about gaining wealth and fame, it’s about driving oneself to the be the best human one can be. It’s about doing great things and the sense of worth that it gives us. It’s about achieving.

I’m convinced this fundamental drive is in each of us. That in order to make this world a Utopia we just need to convince everyone that their happiness derives from their achievements in life. That as more people become like Norgay, like Hillary, and like Messner, the rest of us will join them for the ride!

Follow your dreams. Dare to be great but do it in a practical way. Make your plans and carry them out with determination.

Greatness awaits and the reward is a life filled with joy.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Broken Throne
Next Release: The Black Sphere