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Qualities of high altitude climbers
The latest message relative to the Mount Everest expedition reported the attainment by the pioneer party of a first sighting of the ultimate goal at a distance of a trifle of 50 miles or so. Doubtless, the members of the expedition are enjoying their great adventure — after their fashion. The mountain climber may be suspected of having a somewhat peculiar, or shall we say, uncommon, temperament. Zest for the task to be confronted and a combination of certain physical and mental qualities are necessary for the making of the perfect alpinist. Sir Francis Younghusband brought out fully the idea of the ascent of Mount Everest as a test of human endurance and capacity, and threw interesting light upon the care taken by the committee concerned in choosing for inclusion in the expeditionary party only those applicants who satisfied the most exacting standards of fitness. He said those desirous of joining the attack upon the world's highest peak were expected to give evidence of yet another qualification sometimes lacking in those who are quite content with the earth's lower levels. He said: “They have also to possess in high degree the capacity for getting on with one another. At great heights men can get very nervous and irritable. At 16000 feet they begin to lose patience with one another, and the higher they climb, the deeper they hate. In order to economise in baggage they have to sleep together in the same sleeping bag at night, and by day, owing to the danger of the mountain slope, they will have to be on a rope tied inseparably together. They will be in a highly irritable state, tired to extinction of one another, each longing for a moment's respite from the other, and yet they will have to disguise their true feelings, keep smiling, and above everything, remain staunch and loyal to each other, and to the object of all their efforts.”
— ODT, 20.7.1921.