'Because It's There'

Since 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary conquered Mount Everest, more than 4,000 climbers have tried to reach the summit of the world's highest mountain. Hundreds have successfully made it.

There are probably as many reasons to climb as there are climbers. Many see it as a voyage of self-discovery. Some may simply be looking for a new adventure. For many, the appeal lies in stretching limits. Asked, "Why climb Everest?," British mountaineer George Mallory said, "Because it's there." Most know the risks involved in tackling such a dangerous peak.

But whether there should be limits on who can climb is a question worth asking. Two climbers were reported killed this week. Eight others died in a May 10 blizzard near the top of Everest, the worst single loss of life ever to occur on the 29,028 ft. mountain. Some of the world's most experienced mountaineers were killed - presumably in an effort to help the less-skilled climbers in their group.

Change seems certain - and necessary. The Nepali government could restrict permits. Preferably, the choice will be left to the expedition guides, who will allow only the strongest climbers to attempt the ascent.

According to one climber, many of the experienced mountaineers were "appalled" at the number of inexperienced people trying for the top. Mount Everest is "a whole different ballgame," he said, and it would be wise to treat it as such.

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