By Jeff Ginn
Mount Everest is the world’s tallest peak. It is remote, rugged and daunting. Over three hundred climbers have died in pursuit of its peak and many of their bodies still lie frozen where they fell. Given these facts, something quite surprising happened this summer. There was a traffic jam on Everest!
Due to weather, typically only a few weeks in May are suitable for the ascent. This year, bad conditions reduced that window of time to a few days. For that reason, hundreds of climbers attempted the summit on the same day. Because there is a single rope that lines the last leg of the journey, the route became terribly congested and torturously slow. In the so-called “death zone” of over 8,000 meters of altitude, that is a recipe for disaster. Eleven climbers died during this year’s window.
One of the saddest cases in Everest lore is that of a British climber named David Sharpe. He was an experienced mountaineer. On his third attempt to summit Everest, he decided that he would go solo without the aid of a team or sufficient supplemental oxygen. On his way back down from the summit area, he stopped. Not all of the reasons for his pause are known. What is known is that 40 different climbers passed him on the trail. Though they saw his distress, no one shared their oxygen; no one aided him to stand and return to base camp; no one rendered aid. All were too focused on their agenda.
What a difference it would have made had at least one of the climbers known and applied the “Golden Rule” that Jesus gave us! You know it: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Had someone done for David what they surely would have wanted someone else to have done for them, he likely would have lived to climb another day.
Commentator William Barclay long ago said that the Golden Rule is the “Mount Everest” of Jesus’ teachings. It’s needed both on the mountain top and in the valleys of life.
Jeff Ginn is pastor of the Istrouma Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. His editorial first appeared on his Facebook page.