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July 15, 2019

What Christians Can Learn from Mount Everest's Death Zone

The Death Zone

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Mountain climbing is considered a sport in which you climb up mountains, especially high mountains, using various means for the climb.

But when it comes to climbing Everest, which is the highest peak in the world located in the Himalayas, then it becomes a very exciting and dangerous sport.

On 21 May 2019 Aliki Anastasopoulou became the third Greek woman to climb Everest, and this was reported all over the media.

According to reports, we are informed that Everest at its highest peak is 8,848 meters, which is the primary target of climbers. This year in Nepal 381 permits were granted to climb on the southern side, while 140 permits were granted to climb from the northern side in Tibet. This means that the objective to make this climb motivates many people. Last year was the record for number of ascents, with 807 people stepping on the peak.

Of course, such an ascent is a difficult task, a very difficult and dangerous mission, which requires great preparation, special knowledge and discipline, and the use of necessary means to accomplish the task.

As the media reported, "at over 8,000 meters the so-called 'death zone' begins." The longer someone remains there, the danger increases, due to the scarcity of oxygen, making the environment inhospitable. And this can increase depending on the weather conditions. Last year, eleven deaths were recorded, and this year were recorded the highest number of deaths from the past five years.

Aliki Anastasopoulou said: "When you climb Everest you are prepared to either see dead bodies or to die. You have a feeling of danger." She herself saw two victims as she ascended. Another Greek climber, Mr. Tsianos, said: "Upon my descent I counted ten dead bodies from previous years. If someone dies in those altitudes no one can do anything, you can't carry them down. A bottle of supplemental oxygen does not make you superhuman." And if someone attempts to go up and help someone else, they will likely themselves lose their own life.

I read all this and was impressed by the desire of so many people to ascend the peak of Everest, with so many dangers, finding themselves in a "death zone," let alone the fact that it costs $11,000 to be granted permission to make the climb.

The search for the peak is enchanting, even if they find themselves in the "death zone."

I thought: Why are we not enthusiastic about attaining the peak of the spiritual life, the vision of God, theosis? Why are we afraid to keep the remembrance of death, because we are too afraid to remain in the "death zone"? Why do we lower the goals of our spiritual life and secularize it, instead of keeping it high and being enchanted by the peak?

It is worth every sacrifice, even to put our lives at risk, for us to attain the highest peak of the spiritual Sinai, and Mount Tabor, and breathe in the pure air of eternity. It is worth entering into the "death zone," the remembrance of death and hell, for someone to find He Who Is and be initiated in the knowledge of the Spirit.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.