From Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer, I give you a very long quote (that he is quoting) that I couldn't possibly chop off. Please read this, keeping in mind that this is one guy's personal account of climbing Mount Everest (Eric Shipton in Upon That Mountain, 1952), which is what Into Thin Air is also about. Enjoy:
"I doubt if anyone would claim to enjoy life at high altitudes--enjoy, that is, in the ordinary sense of the word. There is a certain grim satisfcation to be dervied from struggling upwards, however slowly; but the bulk of one's time is necessarily spent in the extreme squalor of a high camp, when even this solace is lacking. Smoking is impossible; eating tends to make one vomit; the necessity of reducing weight to a bare minimum forbids the importation of literature beyond that supplied by the labels on tins of food; sardine oil, condensed milk and treacle spill themselves all over the place; except for the briefest moments, during which one is not actually in a mood for aesthetic enjoyment, there is nothing to look at but the bleak confusion inside the tent and the scaly, bearded countenance of one's companion--fortunately the noise of the wind usually drowns out his stuffy breathing; worst of all is the feeling of complete helplessness and inability to deal with any emergency that might arise. I used to try to console myself with the thought that a year ago I would have been thrilled by the very idea of taking part in our present adventure, a prospect that had then seemed like an impossible dream; but altitude has the same effect on the mind as the body, one's intellect becomes dull and unresponsive, and my only desire was to finish the wretched job and to get down to a more reasonable clime" (p. 107).Makes you want to run right out and sign up for an expedition to climb Everest, eh? I know, it seems paradoxic, but there's something about the way Kraukauer writes the experiences, including the deaths, that makes you think that you can understand why people need to summit the highest peak in the world. Call it the modern day Tower of Babel, but it's pretty special. This book is 100% dynamite.
Because I copied an insane amount of text, I'm going to cite Into Thin Air, lest I be sued for this non-commercial blog.
Krakauer, Jon. (1999). Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster. New York: Anchor Books.