Tuesday, December 19, 2006


So at least one of them has died now, frozen in a snow cave atop Mt. Hood in Oregon, and the other two are still missing. Their fate has been in the news since around December 10, and we’ve seen their tearful mothers and fathers and sisters and wives confessing faith and their confidence in Jesus and their confidence in the virtual army of searchers scouring the mountain.

I’ve always been a bit mystified by mountain climbing. To me it has all the point of running race cars around in circles. There’s never a doubt where you’re going; there’s always a question about what you’ve accomplished.

Still, it’s hard to imagine what might have motivated such a profound act of stupidity. Mt. Hood, certainly, has been climbed before so there was no thought of a “first” in the venture (indeed, one of the rescuers had climbed it himself a good three-hundred times). Nor were they climbing it blindfolded or dressed in tutus or walking backwards. To my knowledge they weren’t even climbing it to solicit charity dollars upon their return to the lowland.

About those searchers, too, we’ve seen their heat-spotting C-135 airplanes, the Blackhawk helicopters (at least one pilot fresh from Afghanistan), the elaborate four-wheel and track-equipped snow machines, and the people, scores of them in winter gear professing a prideful confidence that they will find these boys alive and bring them down.

I have yet to see a figure as to what all this will cost. We broach such things shamefully in this country, as though it were somehow obscene to attach a dollar figure to saving lives (unless you’re talking about the medical industry). Yet, the effort will undoubtedly run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars and those dollars will come out of someone’s pockets.

To me the compassion is intellectual, not heartfelt. Of course I hurt for my fellow humans, and am saddened by the sadness of those families, but that chorus of sorrow has a backbeat I can’t help but hear and it just rattles on and on – so stupid, so stupid, so stupid.


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