In life, sometimes we fall. Same on Mt. Everest. If you aren’t careful, a 100 mile-per-hour wind can whip up unexpectedly and knock you off the mountain. Or, you could take a misstep and go hurtling down the steep rock face.
Once you reach base camp and begin to get acclimatized, the next step is to start off for Camp 1. To do that you have to cross the Khumbu Icefall located at the head of the Khumbu Glacier. Crossing it is considered one of the most dangerous stages of the South Col route to Everest’s summit.
An Ever-Changing River of Ice
The Khumbu Icefall is a short distance from Everest Base Camp and ranges from 17,060 ft, to 29,029 ft., and is an ever-changing and fast-moving river of ice that challenges mountaineers as they amble up the mountain toward Camp 2. Climbers use fixed ropes and metal ladders to cross the vast crevasses. They also have to contend with huge ice towers, (called seracs) that collapse and send huge ice blocks as big as houses careening down the glacier.
This living mass of moving ice cracks, sputters, hisses and moans. Our lives can kind of be like that of a glacier. Glaciers grow and recede based on the weather conditions. We grow in knowledge, experience, and understanding or sometimes we are bogged down with our emotions and feelings and the state of the world. On a larger scale, from a baby we grow and then we recede to our end of life on earth. It is the cycle of life. Maybe that is why the mountain is calling me, especially now on this Lenten journey, at least climbing it vicariously.
Repent and Believe in the Gospel
Perhaps our lives are not as treacherous as climbing a mountain, but perhaps they are. It is usually when we are far from God’s love when our lives begin to spiral downward. When we fall or sin we fail God and our fellow man. When we sin, we may think that we are not affecting anyone else, but our actions always have an effect. No matter how we have fallen God always turns it to the good. As Catholics, we have a way to create a clean heart through the sacrament of Reconciliation. However, the whole point of Reconciliation (Confession) is conversion. During Lent we focus on conversion of the heart. When we receive ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday the minister tells us to, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”
When you are on the mountain you are most likely part of a group and develop a team to help each other out. There is a designated leader that will let you know whether it is safe to attempt the summit. There is only a small window of time to attempt to reach it safely and if you are not within that window, your life may come to an end at the expense of refusing to listen. Jesus also gives us guidance on how to live our lives or we might not make it to abide with him in heaven. A simple guide on how we are to conduct ourselves in life is present in the 10 Commandments. It is how we are supposed to conduct ourselves by holding God close-by in our thoughts, in our hearts, on our lips, and in our actions. Sometimes, often easier said than done.
During Lent, we may think about our mortality as we contemplate the Passion of Jesus which is His life, death crucifixion.
Encountering the Crevasses in Our Lives
Many people in the world may think that Jesus and religion is an outmoded way of thinking or believing, but until you have felt His presence you won’t know what you are missing. And the only way to the Father is through His son. Eventually, we are all called but few are chosen. Often times it is in our encounter with the “crevasses” in our lives that draws us closer to the Presence of God.
Sometimes our practice waxes and wanes and changes, not unlike the moving river of ice and may depend on the circumstances of our lives, but God is always there behind the scenes as a constant companion. He is there in the subtlest of ways and the more blatant. He will never leave us. We can choose to be close to Him or not.
The time of the pandemic has been trying and the election year in some ways was worse for me. During Lent I have a particular image in my head of the Blessed Virgin Mary crushing the evil and cunning snake and is a way for me to cope with the injustices in the world. When we pray to Jesus, through Mary, she intercedes for us. We just need to remind ourselves that we are ultimately not in control. That is why I conjure up this image of Mary’s power in the world. It is kind of a lifeline as I don’t think I am in the realm of affecting change on a grand scale. I then realize that I can change the world around me and try to leave it in a better place than when I found it. I might fall or fail to show God’s love from time to time but I don’t want to fall so big and so hard down the biggest of crevasses because there could be no way back from that.
The ever-moving Khumbu icefall beings in the lower left part of the photo and rises up towards the upper right. A link of more photos of the Khumbu Icefall.
The photos from Travelthewholeworld.com and the linked videos give you an idea of the magnificence of the daunting challenge that trekkers face when climbing Mt. Everest. The glacial canyon and rocks are unbelievably tough to maneuver before even reaching Camp 1. After crossing the icefall, trekkers will realize that the 23 mile trail to Mount Everest, excluding acclimatization which slows the process, is a never-ending journey.
Not only will mountaineers encounter a precipitous climb on the expedition but could also experience hypoxemia, sub-zero temperature, and bitter cold. Wet avalanche and rockfall are some of the other threats to the survival of every trekker.
The low atmospheric pressure and the continuous battle against low oxygen and summit fever lasts until the climbers descend to the base camp and into the valley below.
Some Awesome Videos of Climbing the Khumbu Icefall
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About Mary Perkins
Mary Perkins is a blogger who looks for the usual and unusual ways that her Catholic faith resonates with every-day life. She makes connections large and small and shares them with her readers on themarianniche.com blog. Mary is also the content editor for the lifestyle blog, newwellspring.com. She likes to write and would like to turn her blog into a money-making venture someday.
Mary likes to take photos and has her iPhone camera always within reach. She breaks out her Canon 7D for when she needs to be more detailed.
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