DayBreaks for 4/17/17: Into Thin Air
From the DayBreaks archive, 2007:
I recently finished reading Into Thin Air, about the tragic ascent on Mt. Everest that was attempted 2 years ago this month. A horrible storm swept in while several teams were making their final ascent on the summit. The result: the highest single death toll for any mountain-climbing incident in history.
In the May 9 issue of World magazine, Kevin Cusack wrote an article “When Strength Fails”. Kevin was a friend and climbing partner of Scott Fischer, the man who led the American assault on the summit. Scott was one of the many who died, frozen to death high up on the side of Everest. Kevin told of a climb he’d made with Scott about 20 years ago in the Wind River Range of Wyoming: “The next day, Scott, another climber and I set out on a particularly difficult climb. After a few hours we found ourselves…on a very narrow ledge. Below us lay about 3,000 feet of “free space”, commonly known as air. In front of us lay a 4-foot gap, and above that and to our right was a very smooth nose, which we had to make our way around in order to continue to climb higher. The move required us to drop across the 4-foot gap, grab a fingertip ledge about 18 inches above our heads, and work our way around the nose using only our fingertips.”
“Because the rock was so smooth, we were unable to find any crack into which to clip our rope; therefore the first climber had to attempt the move unroped, since if he were to fall he would take the 2 other climbers roped to him with him. All was very quiet as each man waited for someone else to volunteer to go unroped. Scott’s boldness was being challenged, and in the end he agreed to go first. Then he did a very curious thing. He knelt on that thin ledge on one knee for a few seconds, made the sign of the cross, and stood up. Surprised, I asked, “Scott, what’s the deal?” He simply replied, “Sometimes you never know.” …Scott knew many things, but he did not know the answers to life’s most important questions. One of Scott’s teammates on his fatal Everest climb 2 years ago said, ‘Scott was like a god to us, so strong, fast, and bold, but in the end he was only Scott and he died.'”
Galen’s Thoughts: Scott Fischer was called by Newsweek “one of the strongest climbers in the world”. He was the guy to be with when you were in a difficult spot. His confidence got people through the scariest times. He led people into thin air. But “he was only Scott and he died”. Many people today are leading others into dangerous places – into thin air spiritually – rejecting Scripture, presenting a sinful Jesus and telling us that we can determine on our own what is right and wrong, that we only answer to ourselves. An intoxicating doctrine. But it is the same lie Satan told Eve. In the end, these people are only people…and they will die, as Scott died. Trusting them will be fatal.
Scott hadn’t been a believer. Kevin prays that while Scott was alone on the wind-swept summit in the -100 degree temperatures that he reached out to God. We won’t know until the dawn of eternity what happened with Scott. What can we learn from the fatalities? Simply this: if your faith is in your strength or anything but God, it will fail you. 2 Tim 4:18: The Lord will rescue me…and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.
PRAYER: Father, we put far too much trust in our own wisdom, knowledge and abilities. Forgive us, Father, for such foolishness. Help us realize that only in You is found safety. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.