Wednesday, April 18, 2007
INTO THIN AIR
Last night, in the quiet of the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, I had the pleasure of listening to an extraordinary example of a man's spirit and will to live in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles.
Dr. Beck Weathers shared his experiences during the deadliest day in the history of Mt. Everest.
Not quite reaching the summit he was left to wait the return of his colleagues as they pushed forward the last 300 ft. He did not know that he would never see many of them again.
Uopn the descent from the summit a storm swept over the face of Everest challenging more than 30 climbers to live through the sub-zero cold and hurrican force winds.
By the next day 9 climbers will have lost their life.
Dr. Weathers was left for dead as several of his colleagues attempted to save themselves and make it back to camp four. Lying frozen and encased in ice through the night he managed to barely keep himself alive.
Opening his eyes in the morning, hoisting himself off of the frozen ledge with his frostbitten hands he manages to make it back to camp.
Since returning home he has lost his right hand and most of his left hand due to the frostbite and hypothermia he had endured on that fateful day. He has continued his career as a pathologist, with the help of an assistant.
Mostly, he has re-evaluated what it is that is important in his life. His journey on that mountain was a re-awakening for him. As he put it- It saved his marriage,his family, as well as his future.
Would he do it again knowing the cost? His answer was "yes".
I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.