Day 71: Base Camp
He was on that mountain for seventy-five years. “People ask me, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?' and my answer must at once be, 'It is of no use.'There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron... If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.” These were the words of George Mallory, and they ring true to me, now more than ever.
Welcome back, thirsty readers. I know it's much later than I usually post, but the life of the shaker has gotten away from me a bit today. However, I'm certainly not
going to miss a day, especially when we've come so far. It's a relate-able idea, isn't it? The idea of coming so far, just to stop before reaching the summit. It's the ultimate feeling of failure, and I have plenty more planned for my readers, before this is all over.
In the early days of the twentieth century, nobody had yet been atop with world's highest peak. Standing over 29,000 feet in the air, Mount Everest has fascinated the curious for centuries. Perhaps no person had longed for the summit of Everest more than George Herbert Leigh Mallory, who was part of the first British expedition for the peak of Everest.
Born in 1886 Cheshire, Mallory was a bit of a Renaissance-man from the start. It's said he excelled in athletics, just as much as his academics. One of his schoolmates, writer James Strachey, described Mallory in a letter, which sounded like he cared for him as a bit more than a friend in those prep school days. "He's six-foot high, with the body of an athlete by Praxiteles, and a face—oh incredible—the mystery of Botticelli, the refinement and delicacy of a Chinese print, the youth and piquancy of an unimaginable English boy." It was during those formative years, he was introduced to climbing and mountaineering by one of his school masters.
After finishing his degree, Mallory began both his teaching and climbing careers in that same year. His first climbing expeditions began in the Alps, eventually progressing to Asia, where the British Reconnaissance Expedition of 1921 kick-started the obsession with reaching the top of Everest. With Mallory leading the team, they were able to map out routes for a possible accent of Everest, which they would use the next year, when they returned. During the second attempt, due to extreme weather, the team had to retreat down the mountain, only a few thousand feet short of the summit. He was determined not to give up again.
In their third attempt, Mallory and his team ran into an avalanche, killing several of the Sherpas they'd hired as their guides. They immediately abandoned this attempt, and Mallory was harshly criticized for his judgement on this particular expedition. When asked why he kept attempting to climb Everest, Mallory replied “Because it’s there… Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and no man has reached its summit. Its existence is a challenge. The answer is instinctive, a part, I suppose, of man’s desire to conquer the universe.” Fellow climber on that trip, Edward Abbey has referred to Mallory as being "frost-bitten and inarticulate" when he said his famous quote, but those three immortal words remain with us today. "Because it's there."
Mallory made one final attempt to reach the top of Everest, and he wouldn't be seen again for seventy-five years. His body was discovered in 1999, still preserved on the icy mountain. It can't be said, with certainty, whether he reached the summit, but I happen to believe giving his life to the mountain, was more than enough. He wouldn't stop until he made it, and he paid the ultimate price.
So many people are rushing out to the beaches, the bars, and the parks. They need their "fun in the sun," and they need it now, but I find it so troubling when we've come so far, only to give in to our own selfishness. There seems to be a complete disregard for safety. Perhaps getting that fresh haircut or partying with their friends gives them the same thrill Mallory had, when he looked up at that icy mountain-top. Are you willing to give your life, or the lives of others, for what you want, "because it's there?"
.75oz Cucumber Pisco
.25oz Espadin Mezcal
1oz Bianco Vermouth
Nick & Nora Glass
Stir and strain into chilled glass.
Express and garnish with lemon peel.
1 750ml bottle of Caravedo
1 large cucumber
Slice the cucumber and pour the pisco over the pieces.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Strain and serve.
It's been a very long day, and I think it's time to turn the wheels off in the brain.
Seventy-one days is a bit longer than I thought this would be going, so please forgive me for my scattered thoughts today. Tomorrow is a day for more planning. We have to move forward. Those of us in the restaurant world need to keep doing what we're doing. We need to put smiles on your faces. That's what we do, and we do it because nothing else feels right. The restaurant world needs to survive. Years from now, when people ask us why we suffered through the hard times to work a job that's even harder at times, why we choose to go back into a world that's so uncertain and unforgiving, I hope we can all look up at them and say "because it's there." Keep Shaking