Monday, September 21, 2009

Miracle on Everest

Fr. Michael Denk

September 19, 2009

Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Miracle on Everest

Associate Press 7:10 p.m. ET, Thurs., June 8, 2006

KATMANDU, Nepal - Just days after a British climber was left to die near Mount Everest’s summit, an American guide abandoned his second bid to stand on top of the world so he could rescue a mountaineer mistakenly given up for dead.

Not only did Daniel Mazur not scale the world’s highest peak from the northern side, he also failed to get his two paying clients to the top.

“It was very disappointing for me to miss my chance at the summit, but even more that I could not get my job done,” Mazur, of Olympia, Wash., told The Associated Press upon returning to Nepal’s capital, Katmandu, on Thursday.

Mazur, his two clients and a Sherpa guide were just two hours from the 29,035-foot peak on the morning of May 26 when they came across 50-year-old Lincoln Hall, who was left a day earlier when his own guides believed he was dead.

“I was shocked to see a guy without gloves, hat, oxygen bottles or sleeping bag at sunrise at 28,200 feet height, just sitting up there,” said Mazur, who scaled Everest once before, from the southern side, in 1991.

Mazur said Hall’s first words to him were: “I imagine you are surprised to see me here.”

Mazur said he knew Hall was OK because he was not crying for help and still had a sense of humor.

Mazur’s team spent the next four hours pulling Hall away from the slopes, giving him bottled oxygen, food and liquids.

They also radioed the base camp to tell Hall’s surprised team he was still alive.

While Mazur’s team was busy assisting Hall, two Italian climbers walked past them toward the summit. When asked to help, they claimed they did not understand English. On his return to base camp, Mazur discovered they did.

“I don’t know why they didn’t want to stop to help,” Mazur said. “I hope when I am there, in that state, and someone passes me ... I hope it is someone like me.”

Hall’s rescue came just days after David Sharp, 34, died May 15, about 1,000 feet into his descent from the summit. Dozens of people walked right past him, unwilling to risk their own ascents.

By the time some Sherpas showed up to help get Hall back to base camp, Mazur, his clients and his own Sherpa were too exhausted to attempt the peak. They had no choice but to return without completing their climb.

“We all looked at the summit and then returned,” he said. “We all agreed there was no choice.”

But Mazur had no regrets.

“Oh yeah, it was worth it,” he said. “You can always go back to the summit but you only have one life to live. If we had left the man to die, that would have always been on my mind ... How could you live with yourself?”

Jesus asks his apostles:

“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.

The apostles were trying to be climbers, they were overlooking the call to service so that they could reach their own summit.

So often we get so focused on our summits, success, popularity, raises, promotions that we overlook our primary purpose in this life is not to climb, but to serve.

Take a look at your life right now. Is there anyone in your class, at your school, or at your job, or on your team that has been left behind? Is there anyone who is weak and has been overlooked? Is there anyone that needs to be embraced like the child that Jesus placed in their midst?

Numerous men had passed by Lincoln Hall. Two men continued climbing while he was being rescued. His own group had left him to die. One man saw him and stopped his climb…

At that moment, three men’s dream of reaching the summit died so that Lincoln Hall could live. They stayed for four hours, watching over him until the rescue team arrived.

Lincoln Hall had been left for dead just below the summit of Everest, but because of the choice three climbers made he lived to tell the tale.

There are people dying right now that need your help. Maybe just to be acknowledged, or talked to or listened to or hugged. There are people in our lives that are starving for affection, attention. There maybe a student whose life you could change if you took an interest in. There may be a coworker who is struggling with depression or alcoholism. There may be someone next to you in the pew right now who paralyzed by fear and anxiety and your warmth could save them. There may be someone you know in a nursing home who is walking around in a daze and you could change their life by taking the time for them.

Would you abandon your ascent of Mount Everest to save another climber?

In an AP online survey out of 12630 responses 96% said Yes and 3.9% said No.

Would you abandon your ascent of Mount Everest to save another climber? * 12630 responses



What’s your answer? Remember…

“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely would give up my chance to summit. What upsets me about the whole climbing scenariois the danger that a loving and gentle people are enduring so westerners can climb. The Sherpa language had no word for summit. Climbing was something they never thought about until foreigners began coming into their country in 1950.
    I used to lead treks to the base camp and learned to love the Sherpas. I helped them build the first lodge system in Nepal in 1990.
    To learn more about the Sherpas Beyond the Summit by Linda LeBlanc. They are the true heroes of Everest. Without their assistance, very few would reach the summit. Details of Sherpa culture and religion are interwoven in a tale of romance and high adventure. The story has something for everyone: a love affair between an American journalist and Sherpa guide, conflict between generations as the modern world challenges centuries of tradition, an expedition from the porter’s point of view.

    Below are selections from reviews. To read the complete ones and excerpts go to

    Beyond the Summit, is the rare gem that shows us the triumphs and challenges of a major climb from the porter’s point of view. The love of two people from diverse cultures is the fiery centerpiece of a novel that leads its readers through harshly beautiful and highly dangerous territory to the roof of the world. Malcolm Campbell, book reviewer

    Conflict and dialog keep this gripping story of destiny, romance and adventure moving from the first page to the last paragraph. LeBlanc has a genius for bonding her readers and her characters. I found I was empathizing in turn with each character as they faced their own personal crisis or trauma.
    Richard Blake for Readers Views.

    A gripping, gut-twisting expedition through the eyes of a porter reveals the heart and soul of Sherpas living in the shadows of Everest.

    A hard-hitting blend of adventure and romance which deserves a spot in any serious fiction collection. Midwest Book Review

    LeBlanc is equally adept at describing complex, elusive emotions and the beautiful, terrifying aspect of the Himalayan Mountains. Boulder Daily Camera

    LeBlanc’s vivid description of the Himalayas and the climbing culture makes this a powerful read. Rocky Mt News Pick of the Week

    A rich adventure into the heart of the Himalayan Kingdom. Fantastic story-telling from one who has been there.

    This is the book to read before you embark on your pilgrimage to Nepal. The author knows and loves the people and the country, and makes you feel the cold thin air, the hard rocks of the mountains, the tough life of the Sherpa guides, and you learn to love them too. This is a higly literate, but also very readable book. Highly recommended.”
    – John (college professor)

    Memorable characters and harrowing encounters with the mountains keep the action moving with a vibrant balance of vivid description and dialog. Literary Cafe Host, Healdsburg, CA

    This superbly-crafted novel will land you in a world of unimaginable beauty, adventure, and romance. The love story will keep you awake at night with its vibrant tension and deep rich longing. Wick Downing, author of nine novels

    Such vividly depicted images of the Everest region and the Sherpa people are the perfect scenario for the romance and adventure feats narrated. It’s a page-turner, so engrossing you end up wanting to visit Nepal! Not just novel, but perfect for those seeking to get acquainted with the culture of this country.
    By Claudia Fournier (América, Bs. As., Argentina)

    Available through Barnes and Noble, Borders,,, and the web site


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