Tuesday, 28 August 2012


Growing Up - Evolution
I watched a TV documentary on climbing the North Face of the Eiger. Since 1900, incredibly brave men (mostly men) have climbed that precipitous, 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) sunless, icy wall and triumphed or died. Many have died. Typically they formed teams, spent weeks at base camp – a five star hotel – and took 3 to 18 days to make the ascent. They slept on The Face; they froze on The Face; they despaired in the terrible weather and snowfields on The Face; they were rescued from The Face – and some triumphed over The Face; and were filmed from the 5 star hotel by the world’s media.

Coming down is far easier; there are two relatively safe, relatively gentle ridges on the south side. No-one HAS to climb up and overcome the terrors of The North Face. But many do. Over about 90 years, wise, grizzled, heroic patriarchs of the mountain climbing world have mapped the way – defined the methods – built up the laws – scorned the ill-prepared – and they have lived. For nearly a century they passed on their hard won, received wisdom.

Until 2008.  In 2008 a lone Swiss climber, a carpenter from Interlaken called Ueli Steck, who clearly hadn’t been to mountaineering school, knew nothing of the ninety years of painfully learned experience, and who never listened to what his mother told him – ran up the North Face. He ran up, from the base, alone, with a little knapsack, a coil of rope, spiked crampons and an ice-axe in each hand. He ran up the North Face in 2 hours and 47 minutes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdHlyjM_8_E

Ueli Strek - 2012 - Swiss Mountaineer
who did not listen to his mother &
ran up The Eiger in 2 hrs 47 minutes.

Ueli did not know that he could not ascend The North Face, alone, at speed; starting after breakfast, after a civilised 9am breakfast – and getting back for afternoon tea. He did not know that the learned experts knew it was impossible. So – SURPRISE - he just ran up the mountain.  What can you just do?

This tale has many lessons for the human race and every individual person. “They” are not always right. Tweak a few molecules in the space before your eyes – and things do change. The impossible becomes possible. Soon, everyone is doing it and seeing it differently. This is evolution.

Is it coincidence or synchronicity that in the same years, dreamers, cartoonists, film and image makers, reared on the a-sexual, androgynous, fiercely bachelor and spinster, solo, lonesome, and improbably muscular Superheroes of the Marvel Comics – from 2008 to 2012 have infused their childhood heroes with adult passions – including kissing? I think not. This too is evolution. Teens and Adults enjoy sex. It is inspiring. And can be fun. Ask Prince Harry.

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