“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.” - George Mallory
16th May, 2018.
As part of the daily ritual, started the morning by flipping through The Times of India. Mostly filled with political stuff, which I ignored. Ended up reading an article on Everest “Trophy Hunters”. Basically people with more money than actual climbing experience, who are using Eeverest tour operators to pay their way through knocking off the achievement of having climbed Mt. Everest. It had quotes from Guy Cotter (he is also featured in the movie Everest), a New Zealand based adventure tour operator. And then comes the concluding paragraph in the print edition.
“They are not mountaineers. They are just people who want to claim the prize of climbing Mount Everest. They are hunting for that trophy,” said Tenzing Norgay, the first man to summit Everest together with Edmund Hillary in 1953.
Now Tenzing Norgay passed away in 1986. So there was no way, he could have given this quote in 2018. And it could not have been an old quote either as Everest commercial climbing became a business only in the 90s! Unless, the reporter was time traveling or just using quote generators!
Now, we live in a world increasingly filled with “fake news” and propaganda. But why would anyone put in a fake quote? Turns out, the truth was a little less complicated. Times of India had run out of column inches and just ended the story at that point with minor edits! The actual article as per the News Agency AFP read:
"Nowadays people can go on the internet and buy the cheapest expedition onto the mountain. But there is no criteria for experience with some of these operators," said the owner of New Zealand-based Adventure Consultants. "They are not mountaineers. They are just people who want to claim the prize of climbing Mount Everest. They are hunting for that trophy."
Tenzing Norgay, the first man to summit Everest together with New Zealander Edmund Hillary in 1953, only reached the top on his seventh attempt.
Today amateur climbers expect to do it on their first try, prompting many to take higher risks blinded by "summit fever" and lulled into a false sense of security by the thousands who have succeeded before….
So who do we blame for this glaring editorial stupidity? Just goes to show how much Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V goes on in the journalistic world? How careless our news sources can be? Little knowledge is dangerous. And in the wrong hands, it can become downright perilous.
P.S. And why this fascination with climbing Everest? I guess, as the legendary mountaineer George Mallory had said “Because it’s there”.
P.P.S. And all this while I thought this was a quote by Sir Edmund Hillary. Well, we all learn something new everyday.