Image of Scott Mortensen on Everest summit in May 21st, 2008 (click to enlarge).
"Now was time, I had thought. Now's the time for a looney carrying an egg on a spoon to the very top of Mt Everest."

Baltoro 1993 Bob A. Schelfhout Aubertijn (click to enlarge).
K2. Bob A. Schelfhout Aubertijn (click to enlarge).
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." All images courtesy of Bob A. Schelfhout Aubertijn.

First on Everest

Posted: Jun 03, 2008 05:54 pm EDT
( "Another disappointment when I put down the phone."

"The food industry wouldn't support my attempt on Everest as they had just signed a contract with a guy from Wyoming who had plans to carry a bottle of ketchup to the summit." <cutoff>

<i>An opinionated satire by Bob A. Schelfhout Aubertijn</i>

"A world's first, as they announced it. I was left bereaved in the same way when the pharmaceuticals had turned me down. And the fast-food franchise that didn't want to be associated with an egg on a spoon."

"The big mountains had attracted a lot of weird folk over the years. Everest topping them all, in height and in lunacy. We'd seen the first amputee summit, the first blind, the first mother-daughter team [on O2], the first diabetes-type-1, the first woman that did time in Alcatraz for mooning, and the first gay-African American-kleptomaniac."

"Now was time, I had thought. Now's the time for a looney carrying an egg on a spoon to the very top of Mt Everest. And that looney was to be me!"

<b>The moon was a no-go</b>

"In my younger years I had come to admire the likes of Armstrong, Shackleton and Hillary, like all youngsters do. The moon was a no-go for me though as I had glasses since conception."

"Shackleton crossed many a great water and as I never was taught how to swim it made it a no-go as well. So I had set my eyes on the efforts that got the Great Ed into the books of history and into the minds of regular folk."

"I'd do me some mountain, I thought."

"And it better be some splendid mountain or else. So I sat myself down for years on end reading several hundreds of dead tree editions. All of the great and the famous, the courageous and outright proud, I read them all."

"Within the space of a month I could do knots in my sleep, and in the supermarket I packed my shoppings like I was going on an expedition. I mastered the argot and with photographic memory could recite the names and heights, the routes and the history of all the great ascents."

"So finally that historic day came up and I gave my very last penny to an outfitter who would guide me to the top of sacred Rum Doodle. Yet, alas... the history of that spoof is known to us all. The time had come for Plan B."

<b>Brotherhood of the Rope</b>

"A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend brought me into contact with a bloke that had done some remarkable routes in his younger years."

"The first visit that I paid him was impressive and he had a copy of 'Master of Rock' that caught my eye, so at once I decided he was good folk. After three sessions of climbing together I'd outdo him on all walls but at least he had gotten me into the Art and Craft of gearing up and scaling faces. [I'm still indebted to him, even when we speak of many years ago]."

"From that point on I was meeting interesting peoples, and we'd hook up the occasional 'Brotherhood of the Rope'. The first 2000m peak was bagged, soon to be followed by loads of 3000m ones. The threshold of 4000m came up and soon after we decided to have a go at some of the classic climbs that we had come to know through the books and guides."

<b>Anatoli Anaboli</b>

"The natural cause of events made it imperative we'd go seek pleasurable adventures overseas. And so it came to be that, after a couple of seasons in the magnificent Andes where we were sharpening our skills, we was going to take on the mighty Himalayas themselves."

"On the road and in the pubs, even in the longer spells of sitting in base camps, we did have a great time meeting many a great climber. We were impressed by the likes of Boukreev - nicknamed Anatoli Anaboli - who was a bull of incomprehensible skill and power."

"We peed our pants with funny blokes like Hinkes, Parkin and Blanchard. And we had the exquisite pleasure - though not entirely legal - to eat loads of canned pork and empty quite a bottle of Glenfiddich with friends like Pep Aced and Jordi Angeles in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. But still; Everest was luring, far, far away to the east... Like a wild beast awaiting us."

<b>Everest, boys, Everest is the way to go!</b>

"Making plans often a times our eyes fell on beauties like Latok and K7, Nameless Tower and Uli Biaho but the main fundraiser wouldn't have any of it."

"Even a Rupal Face or a Rakaposhi North Spur wouldn't sway his opinion. Everest, boys, Everest is the way to go if you want the papers to be interested at all! The regular folk in the street just cared about Everest, and wouldn't be in awe for extreme challenges like Shipton Spire, if they'd even have a faint idea of where that spire would be located. So Everest it was to be."

<b>The Musketeers were nowhere to be seen</b>

"Then came 1996."

"Things happened and for many a newbie the shit hit the fan big time. Books were published, careers blown to bits, and even full Wikipedia pages be devoted to that peculiar year on that peculiar lump of rock."

"In fact - for many a climber - the True History and Appeal of Everest died that year. In the years that past semi-crooks and blunt gold diggers got to claim Sagarmatha to fill their pockets. The peak and its faces got desecrated, and the human aspect of the Great Game was brought down in a rush to whack clients up the ridge."

"The Musketeers that cherished their 'All for one and One for all' were nowhere to be seen. And so the description of the route was refined with characteristics as 'Green Boots'..... 'Yea, it's difficult enough up there to save your own ass', if anything be said at all."

<b>Everestiana went up for sale, and the egg was eaten</b>

"But this was not why we had set out to go and ramble and test our skills on the very walls and peaks. Not even when they'd pay us to go up with an egg on a spoon.... And so it came to be that the shelf of Everestiana went up for sale, and the egg was eaten."

"And since way back when the great climbs are being done on anything but Everest. And the only interest is awaiting the very moment when Disney steps in, opens up a theme park, and maybe even a cable ferry to the very summit. Where one can acquire a miniature Olympic flame, with your name inscribed. Or even a snow-globe with Green Boots in that cave..."

"Juanito the Great hit the nail on the head when he uttered his Zen-classic on the subject; 'I wouldnt even consider many of them climbers'."

<i>Bob A. Schelfhout Aubertijn [1961] has been climbing since the age of 15, i.e. for the better part of the last 31 years. The best part of his résumé is not found in his nifty solutions to the Great Problems of the Alps, and not even in that great attempt up K2. It's all about coming back in one piece, and as Friends. ["Great joy can be found on the Walker Spur though. No doubt."]

His great passion lies in the Karakorams, where the history of K2 is pivotal. He owns one of the best and most extensive libraries on the subject, and lends the occasional hand in the research and editing of articles and books. The other area of desire is formed by the heart of the Motherland; the Tanami desert, the Simpson Desert and the Strzelecki Desert of the Northern Territories and Queensland.

The last three years he's been selling off big parts of his inheritance on eBay for the benefit of the International Campaign for Tibet, of which he's been an avid supporter since way back when.
"Lho gyalo! Dé tamche pham"</i>

#Mountaineering #feature