Climbing Mt. Motherhood– My Hillary Step


Today is the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s heroic first summit of Mt. Everest. I wrote this post a few months back about how being a working mom is sort of like being a Himalayan mountaineer. On this monumental anniversary, I would like to repost it, since I have had Everest on the brain, and it is one of my favorite posts. . . also, I am exhausted and can’t think of anything else to write about Everest that has to do with motherhood and mindfulness. Sigh.

I read an article today about how Everest has become a trash heap. Tourists have polluted one of the world’s pristine and majestic landmarks. This makes me so sad, that people have not cared more for this sacred mountain.

The Sherpa call Everest Chomolungma, which means Goddess Mother of Mountains. Until Europeans came to their land, it never even occurred to these deeply spiritual native people to try to climb this Great Goddess.

It is something to think about- humanity has sullied Everest with not only their foot prints, but also with huge amounts of trash, thousands of empty bottles of oxygen, piles of human excrement, and dead bodies.

In the words of the illustrious Butthead, “Life is hard, Beavis.”

Seriously, though, I will always regard this mountain with nothing less than utter amazement. I hope people can get their act together to stop trying to kill the Goddess Mother of Mountains.

Happy Hillary Step Day.


The Hillary Step is a 40-foot wall of rock and ice at the top of Mt. Everest.  It lies in the “death zone,” the altitude above which there is not enough oxygen to sustain human life for more than a day or two.  By the time most climbers get to this point on Earth’s tallest mountain, their brains and bodies are starved for oxygen, making every step a burden.  Hypoxia can cause climbers to hallucinate, opening the door to danger, disaster, and death.

Or so I have read.

For the record, I have never been to Everest.  Nor do I climb mountains.  Ice, snow, and heights are so not my thing.  But over the past decade, I have become obsessed with stories of mountaineering, and read a dozen books on Himalayan expeditions.

What strength and hubris do climbers possess to scale a 29,000 foot mountain?  How do men and women…

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