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December 21, 2006

Mountains....

Bekaserdans72x723_4 Beka - Like the rest of the nation, I’ve been entranced by the story of the climbers lost on Mt. Hood, tuning into CNN’s Larry King Live most of last evening. Now, I’ve never climbed any mountains in the U.S, but have hiked up 2-6 km mountains in Southern Bavaria and the Swiss Alps. During the summer months, Europeans by the hundreds flock to the Hills where the film “The Sound of Music” was made on so-called “wandering or hiking tours,” for weeks at a time. Well planned hikes along trails lead hikers to summits of various heights. It is an incredible feeling to be wandering the green low lying hills that bloom with wildflowers. Their scent fills your senses, making you forget your everyday troubles quite easily.

Now, how do the rescuers on Mt. Hood even begin to know where to look among the heavy piles of snow and the hidden ice crevasses for signs of the living? One wrong step can land you into an un-climbable situation among the peaks, valleys and glaciers that form a mountain. And there is always the risk of avalanches. Three experienced climbers; 1 fatality and 2 others remain missing now.

Of course, the debates and questions are arising already. How well prepared were the climbers? Why participate in such an extreme sport? Why venture out on the technically difficult Northeast Ridge of Mt. Hood? Why leave their snow caves? Why not ride the weather out? None of us can answer these questions, except to assume that the climbers made decisions as best as they could, evaluating their own circumstances. We may never know what those true circumstances were. As nurses, we make life-saving assessments and decisions everyday we work, do we not?

I can say that hiking up a mountain is a wondrous thing -- it is only you, the elements, your soul, and the mountain. Upon reaching a peak, one is surrounded by a certain indescribable quietness, a peacefulness, a heaven. You can almost touch the sky, even create a castle in the sky with your own icy breath. There is degree of isolation, yet comfort as well. The natural untouched beauty of the earth resides miles away and can be seen visually, as well as felt. No fog or smog exists -- just a yearning to give it another go on another, even higher mountain. And so it goes…beauty can lead to tragedy.

December 21, 2006 in Beka | Permalink

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