1. It was Mallory who said, in response to “Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?” that said, “Because it’s there.”

  2. Cartoonists spend a lot of time alone. An unfortunate side effect is they sometimes think their musing are coherent.

    I’m assuming…. googles to confirm ….Mallory and Irvine where earlier climbers of Everest who died and thus if they have had reached the summit never made it down.

    Frazz being the insufferable boor that he is whose constant need to be the most wise and even-tempered person in the room means he has to quibble and belittle children just to make sure he gets the last word in, brings up the utterly irrelevant and dubious claim that a flights not over until it lands and erroneously and illogically concludes a flight doesn’t actually count as flying if it is destroyed before it lands, which is just plain mean and cruel if you think about it. Thus if Mallory and Irvine made it to the summit and died on the descent it means they never made the summit if they never came down. Which is *really* mean and cruel if you think about it. But what can you expect from a guy who is shallow and insecure he has to smugly get into verbal p*ssing contests … with children.

  3. After raising the issue and naming both Mallory and Irvine, Mallett could have had the decency to at least mention Tenzing Norgay.

  4. The FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale), who governed flight records since 1905, had a rule that for an achievement to count the pilot had to takeoff and land inside their aeroplane. No ejecting halfway through.

    These rules meant that when the USSR launched Yuri Gagarin on his pioneering orbital flight they felt they had to falsify the details of his landing – he and all the other five Vostok pilots ejected and landed separately from their spacecraft, but they claimed Gagarin landed inside.


    Apparently Gherman Titov, Gagarin’s backup and later the second person in orbit, gave the game away when he cheerfully described his parachute descent (I interviewed Titov in his house in Moscow in 1998, btw).

    Following FAI rules would have meant that none of their flights counted as successfully-completed spaceflight records, including 1963’s Vostok 5 with Valery Bykovsky on board, which at one hour short of five days is still the longest solo flight of anyone ever.

    So the FAI sensibly changed the rules. As it happens, those six Vostok cosmonauts were the only people to eject .

    As well as ejections, I suppose all spacecraft flights are a bit odd as they involve dumping large chunks of the vehicle most of the time. The Apollo command module that finally landed back on earth (well, splashed down in the sea under parachutes) was less than 5% of the whole launched Saturn V stack.

  5. Saying “Hillary and Norgay” instead of just “Hillary” should be automatic. The fact that we routinely credit only Hillary says a lot about us as a society.

  6. I was enjoying the possibilities of the gag during the first seven words that would include a “first.”

    Then I realized it was a different Hillary.

    Oh well. Par for the course.

  7. Political? Oh, THAT other different Hillary. When I first read CloonBounty’s comment, I thought the reference was to Hillary Forth, and that some sort of FRAZZ/SALLY FORTH mashup was being suggested.

  8. The “Because it’s there” quote (in response to “Why climb Everest / the highest mountain?”) is firmly rooted in pop culture. I’m guessing that most people would probably attribute it to Sir Edmund Hillary, but as mentioned above, the quote is attributed to Mallory. This quote was used by Kennedy in his “we choose to visit the moon” speech, and has been used in the justification pf numerous other dangerous endeavors.

    Mallory and Irvine came at least close to reaching the summit of Everest three decades before Hillary and Norgay. There has been considerable analysis and speculation on if they actually achieved the summit. This speculation intensified when Mallory’s body was found (well preserved) in 1999 and he was not carrying the photo of his wife that he reportedly had planned to leave at the summit. Mallory’s belongings also did not include the camera that he and Irvine had taken with them to document their ascent. Speculation remains that if Irvine’s body is found (a Japanese climber in the 60’s believed he may have seen it), If the camera is found with Irvine’s body, it is believed that the film could still be developed and should definitively tell us if, in fact, Mallory and Irvine made it to the top.

    After the 1999 ascent that uncovered Mallory’s body, later expedition uncovered a pick that had to have been Mallory’s and Hillary’s. There were attempts to study photographs to try to determine possible locations for Irvine’s body This made the mainstream news 10-ish years ago. Perhaps this strip would have worked better then.

    As far as the joke, Caulfield is talking about Everest and the people who climbed it. When the snow-shoveling Frazz uncovers something disgusting and Caulfield asks “Where did that come from,” Frazz plays off the Everest context and says “It was there.” Is a great joke? No. But I also don’t think this is unreasonably arcane. All you need to know for the joke is that
    1) The “Because it’s there” quote and its association with Everest (you don’t need to know that Mallory said it)
    2) That the Hillary expedition is credited with the summit first
    3) That there exists a possibility that Hillary and Norgay were not actually the first people to reach the peak. (Arguably, this can be inferred from Caulield’s statement– and the fact that Mallory and Irvine are the most likely contenders can definitely be inferred.)

    As to Frazz’s question, I think it is a fair one. Clearly, one has not conquered a mountain if he/she does not safely climb down the mountain. The Hillary expedition would still be the first to successfully complete the entire goal. Or, to go back to Kennedy (in his first speech on going to the moon), the goal was not merely to send a man to the moon, it was sending a man to the moon and “returning him safely to Earth.” If it is someday proved that Mallory and Irvine made it to the summit, Hillary and Norgay would still be the first to complete the entire task.

  9. I did not catch that ‘Whoa. Where’d that come from?” referred to something Frazz was shoveling. And I’m still not completely sure of it. Neither of them appear to be looking down.

  10. History could have been very different if:

    Mallory: I want to climb Mount Everest.
    Sherpa: Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?
    Mallory: Because it’s there.
    Sherpa: All right. Come with me.

    Sherpa: Here we are. The foot of Mount Everest. It’s here.
    Mallory: At last!
    Sherpa: Tell me again why you want to climb Mount Everest.
    Mallory: Because it’s there.
    Sherpa: Actually it’s here.
    Mallory: You’re right, it’s here. So it’s not there?
    Sherpa: Nowhere but here.
    Mallory: So, not there. It’s here.
    Sherpa: Right here. Not there. Here.
    Mallory: Who would climb a mountain because it’s here?
    Sherpa: Got me.
    Mallory: Is there another mountain that’s not here?
    Sherpa: Um, K2?
    Mallory: So Everest is here and K2 is there?
    Sherpa: Yes.
    Mallory: Let’s go!

  11. The problem with crediting only “Hillary” is not just that it ignores Norgay’s efforts. It also fails to recognize that the first (successful) Everest expedition was a massive operation, with hundreds of people participating, not just as climbers, but also for logistical support(*). Hillary did not command the expedition; he wasn’t even the lead climber. If the first pair had not been stopped by a defective oxygen system (just a few hundred meters below the summit), then nobody would ever had heard of Hillary.
    P.S. (*) – In this sense it is very similar to crediting only “Armstrong” as the first man on the moon (“Aldrin”=”Norgay”, “Collins”=”obscure footnote”).

  12. Still, if we’re going to say “the first person to…” that means the first person, regardless of the circumstances.

    And that list includes Enrique, the first man to sail around the world.

  13. “The first (successful) Everest expedition was a massive operation” Likewise inventions and scientific discoveries are credited to inventors and scientists as if each one is working all by himself in some secluded lab. Many of those inventions and discoveries actually involved a lot of teamwork.

  14. Coincidentally, here is a bit of trivia about Mt. Everest I read yesterday in Bill Bryson’s book, “The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain” (an author I highly recommment, BTW):

  15. WONDERMARK’S view of mountain climbing . . .

    altext: You don’t NEED to climb a mountain to look down on people, but it sure helps

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