Mountains have always thrown a challenge to the spirit of man and he always accepted it. The loftier a mountain, the greater is his desire to conquer it, to climb the highest peak and to enjoy the thrill of victory. Nearly all the mountains of the world have now been conquered by the persistence and perseverance of man. Even Mount Everest cannot now claim to be invulnerable, having already been scaled several times, the first time by Hillary, and an English man. Several expeditions were organized to negotiate this highest mountain-peak in the world and at least four of them have been successful—British, Swiss, American and Indian. The Chinese too have claimed to have conquered Mount Everest from the other side but their claim has not been accepted by many.
Life offers challenge to man and some people are fascinated by it. Danger to them is the very essence of life and they feed on the delight which they experience in overcoming it. Mountaineering appeals to them as it makes the heaviest demands upon their courage, perseverance and powers of endurance. It is a dangerous adventure. As one climbs higher and higher, the air becomes more and more rarified and breathing becomes more and more difficult. To obviate this some climbers now carry a heavy apparatus from which they can inhale oxygen. The climber finds it really hazardous because at any moment he may stumble or slip and go crashing downwards. The unbearable cold is another difficulty which climbers face. Then there are storms and blizzards. It is an ordeal to have to walk through snow in which one sinks to the knees. It is still more dangerous to climb upwards on ice where foothold is impossible and steps have to be cut in the ice with axes in order to make progress. The cold is so severe that the climbers’ feet, toes and fingers suffer frostbite and become on their boots for climbing on ice or hard snow. In addition, a climber may carry an ice axe to aid, in keeping his balance to cut steps in snow and ice, and to stop himself from tailing. They may also carry snow-glasses.