We are delighted to be able to share this article from David Brown of Peponi School in Kenya.
“We make journeys in life for different reasons. Most are quite straightforward— we visit relatives, friends or simply go away on a relaxing break. We also learn that life is a journey. We will have ups and downs. We will understand ourselves better if we travel, the more experiences we have the wiser we will become. We will broaden our horizons, become more interesting people.
Then there are the epic journeys of the Ancient and Modern Heroic Ages: The Odyssey, The Lord of the Rings, The Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Travel to the Moon or even Mars.
Pupils at Peponi make journeys to Mount Kenya, Kilimanjaro or even the ultimate mountain Everest.
By the beginning of 2015 7,000 climbers have reached the summit of Everest. But they were inspired I would argue in particular by four men who were motivated to succeed at all costs. To climb Mount Everest was their particular journey in life. Their journeys was not to achieve financial reward. These men were adventurers. They risked their lives to achieve their personal goals. They were truly extra-ordinary.
In 1924 George Mallory and Andrew Irvine may well have been the first men to climb the World’s highest peak. These were two young, well educated men who shared a passion for Adventure. Their motivation? When Mallory was asked by a journalist why he wanted to climb Everest? He answered laconically, ‘because it’s there!’ They were last sighted 250 metres from completing their ascent. Seventy- five years later Mallory’s body was discovered, very well preserved, face down in the snow at 27,000 feet; 2,000 feet below the summit. Mallory was descending the mountain.
Intriguingly, it had been reported that Mallory carried a photograph of his beloved wife Ruth with him which he planned to place on the summit in the event of success. It was not found among his remaining possessions. Irvine’s body has not been found. He had the camera! We will never know whether they achieved their ultimate goal. But their heroism is unquestionable.
Nearly 30 years later in 1953 a New Zealander, Edmund Hillary, and a Tibetan Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, became the first men to successfully climb Everest. They reached the Summit but there was a problem. They had a camera but Tenzing didn’t know how to use one! Hillary commented that, with both men utterly exhausted ‘it didn’t seem the appropriate time to teach Tenzing how to take photographs’. There is only the iconic photo of Tenzing at the summit of Everest. The Sherpa later wrote ‘I motioned to Hillary that I would now take his picture but for some reason he shook his head. He did not want it’.
Can you imagine being so unassuming as to turn down the opportunity of being photographed as the man who now stood literally at the top of the World?
As equally laconic as Mallory, on gathering a warming hot drink at Base Camp from his fellow mountaineer and friend George Lowe, Hillary remarked ‘well George, we knocked the B- off ’. Like Mallory and Irvine, Hillary and Tenzing were on personal journeys to fulfil personal ambitions. Not to benefit from celebrity status. They devoted the rest of their lives to charitable causes. Mallory, Irvine, Hillary and Tenzing are iconic figures and act as a laudable legacy of a modern heroic age, where personal journeys are not about wealth and celebrity, but about praiseworthy achievement through selfless determination.
The Kardashians, Bruce Jenner and other orange people on E-News will come and go but the history books will not forget the legacy of George Mallory, Andrew Irvine, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.
Mr David Brown