From the Inside
Out, A personal account of the Big E...
Mount Everest. It's
hard to believe.
This first dispatch is a difficult one to write
because by its form, "the first dispatch" assumes
that this is the beginning. I am certain that
most of you are here because of your love of the
mountain and not your love for me. I will
therefore omit the story that brought me here as
much as possible and concentrate on our mutual
interest, the Big E.
My name is Charlie Wittmack and I am a
climber. That much you need to know. I'm
attempting to climb Everest because I've dreamed
of doing it since back when all climbers did.
While I have many friends in the neighborhood,
right now it looks like I'll be climbing alone.
I'm not after any records, or "firsts" and I don't
expect to be near the summit on the fiftieth
anniversary. I haven't managed any endorsements,
major sponsors or even so much as one crummy book
deal. I'm just here because, like you, I'm in
In a way you could say that I am climbing for
Marmet and Schmied, the two Swiss climbers that
had the third and fourth summits of the mountain
after Hillary and Tenzing. Without the promises
of fame and fortune these men followed their dream
quietly through the shadow of this great mountain
to their goal. Sure Everest had been climbed
before, but not by them! Marmet and Schmied have
been followed by more than a thousand others, some
great and some foolish, but all deeply enamored
with this hill. And what fantastic stories they
What else could it be that would drive these women
and men so far, and cause them to take risks so
great? Why Everest? Why Climb? It's like
asking, "Why do you love someone?" You could
spend a lifetime trying to explain.
This year, Mt. Everest is bringing a few more
tricks to the usual slate of epic sagas. The U.S.
has promised war and the State Department is
discouraging travel, Maoist rebels in Nepal
continue to stage their revolution, record numbers
of climbers are expected on the mountain to
celebrate the fiftieth anniversary and weather
predictions so far look dubious at best. There
are bound to be some stories.
I'll be there, as your eyes and ears, bringing you
photos, interviews and reports from the front
row. The dispatches may on occasion, be
motivational, cynical, ridiculous, educational or
inspiring, but I promise you this, they will
always be honest.
Mount Everest. Here we go.
Richard steps off onto the clouds after summitting
the Mexican volcano, Orizaba. Photo credit: