Summary: Those who risk nothing, instead risk everything.

Into Thin Air

Lessons from Mt. Everest

May 10, 1996, a severe and sudden storm trapped several climbers high on Mt. Everest as they were descending from the summit. In what has become the deadliest single tragedy in the mountain’s climbing history, a total of eight people perished.

A NYTimes best seller and movie, Into Thin Air, described the tragedy. One of guides, was world renowned Seattle climbing guide Scott Fischer, who took people on the climb for about $65,0000. Scott was one of a handful to have peaked the two highest points on earth. Everest and K2. The climbers got into a storm of 75 mile an hour winds and snow flurries that kept them from seeing more than a couple of feet ahead.

Boukreev (Russian guide who summitted during the 1996 tragedy 8 lost lives). "There is discipline, they understand the risk. I told them, you can succeed -- it’s not likely the first time, maybe 25 per cent, but you CAN succeed. You can also die."

Ed Viesturs, a guide who was on Mt. Everest in 1996 when several climbers died after reaching the peak, said

that "Getting to the top is optional, but getting down is mandatory. A lot of people get focused on the summit

and forget that."

Less oxygen at 8,000 feet than sea level– a third as much. Some climbers get fluid in the lungs and can’t breathe. Others have a rush of blood to the head to compensate for the lack of oxygen and the head swells. Some get a high altitude cough that can be so severe it has broken lungs. Why would people risk life and limbs for a sport? Because of the risk involved...The risk...the challenge. People climb the mountain, because it is there...because it taunts them to conquer it.

Whether you mountain climb, or surf, raise children, or run your own business– you take risks. Being human=risk.

1. Everyone here takes risks.

One of the latest trends among the misnamed "slacker generation" is the growth of "extreme sports." Any sport, any activity, it seems, is better if taken to some new "extreme." Snowboarding is great; air-boarding (riding your snow-board down to earth after jumping out of an airplane) is extremely better. Mountain-biking, roller blading, skiing--everything is being taken to new, more daring extremes by Generation X’ers.

Of course, the only place most of us ever see the performances of these "extreme athletes" is from the depths of the lounge chair, safely parked in front of the TV. We watch these Gen X’ers, shake our heads and piously talk about what ridiculous risks they are taking just to have fun.

But do you know who’s really taking the biggest risk? The most risk-laden recreational sports in the world today are the "armchair Olympics" or the "couch-potato championships." While we just sit there watching "extreme athletes," our own blood pressure slowly rises; cholesterol starts piling up in our arteries; internalized stress mounts; our lungs take wimpy, inefficient breaths; and our muscle tone deteriorates.

Contrast that with the "crazy athlete." While apparently risking life and limb, the extreme athlete keeps his or her body fit, stress levels are lowered and there is that euphoric, endorphic rush that just generally makes us feel good. In the long run, hurtling through the air may be a lot less risky than sitting there in a chair!

Getting on the top of the world, or anything worthwhile involves risk and persistence. There is not such thing as a risk-free life. A life without risk is not really living, it’s simply existing. You cannot Not be a risk taker. To play it safe is often a bigger risk.

You probably didn’t think about it, but you took considerable risks getting here to church today. Risks such as:

-- A one in two million chance of dying by falling out of bed this morning.

-- While brushing your teeth, you flirted with the 20 percent chance that your local water supply has

infectious bacteria in it.

-- Men endured a one in 7,000 chance of a serious shaving injury.

--- A risk of one in 145 of your car’s being stolen still waits for you.

-Do not ride in automobiles; they cause 20 percent of all fatal accidents. Do not stay at home; 17 percent of all

accidents occur in the home. Do not walk on the street or sidewalk; 14 percent of all accidents occur to

pedestrians. Do not travel by air, rail or water; 16 percent of all accidents happen on these. By the way, only 1 in a thousand deaths occur at a church, so church is the safest place on earth.

It’s the same way with Christianity. It’s a risk. A risk of being misunderstood and judged by others. It’s a risk to live for Jesus Christ. But Jesus told his followers that he wanted them to be risk takers. Don’t play life in the safety zone. Reach for the top. Aim high. Take chances. Don’t just live in the safety zone.

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