Mount Everest Is Being Asked To Stand Up Straight

Published 3:51 pm Thursday, August 11, 2011

As if the world didn't have enough spaghetti-tangled linguini-lizardy controversy on its plate, Nepal is re-measuring Mount Everest.

Yes, that Mount Everest.

Gather up your yardsticks, men, and just grab the other end of this tape measure.

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China and Nepal, oh say can you see, cannot agree on how tall Mount Everest really is. The Chinese say the very tip of its rocky top should be the measurement and the Nepalese believe the packed snow atop its stony mountaintop should count.

The Nepal government says the re-measurement is meant to end confusion. But I think it's just the beginning of confusion.

If snow counts as part of Mount Everest, which doesn't need any platform elevator shoes, what's to stop the rest of us from adding to our own height with whatever comes to hand? I'm a shade over six-feet tall but I can pack snow on top of my head as good as anyone.

Pudding, peanut butter or a neighbor's English boxwood, too. I'm not choosy.

It's easy to imagine five-foot three-inch Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues showing up to an NBA old-timer's game with three feet of mashed potatoes on his head and demand to jump center for the tip-off against seven-foot two-inch Kareem Abdul Jabbar, “Muggsy” claiming he was now eight-feet three inches tall.

But if Jabbar comes balancing pineapples on his own head, Muggsey's back down beneath the ozone.

Officially, Mount Everest is 29,029 feet tall and the mountain seems mostly content with that measurement. Attempts to contact the world's tallest mountain in hopes of provoking an angry response have so far proved futile.

Oddly, for such a celebrity, Mount Everest doesn't tweet, Twitter or have a Facebook page. And if it has a cell phone, the number is not listed.

To be fair, Nepal has never actually measured Mount Everest. The 29,029-foot official measurement was taken by representatives of India.

But the bickering between Nepal and China over a few feet on or off Mount Everest seems problematic, emblematic, and psychosomatic of the world's ills.

Mount Everest is big enough to lose or gain a few feet with equanimity. One doesn't expect the mountain to complain. It probably wouldn't say a word.

Anyone, meanwhile, who has seen the delightfully quirky film with the Mount Everest-tall title-The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain-is rather enjoying the hullabaloo.

In the film, Welsh villagers are stunned when English surveyors map their mountain out as a hill and react by carting dirt and stones up the top to add footage necessary to make it a mountain.

Up a hill but back down what had become a mountain because the addition was considered permanent.

The never-melting snow works on Mount Everest, as far as I'm concerned, but it doesn't seem all that important. What matters most is that from the top you can look out over the curving world below and imagine all the people living their lives without rulers.

Plain and simply free.

So keep the mashed potatoes, mud and snow off your heads and I'll keep them off of mine.

Let's just be ourselves, walking whatever height we have with our own two feet in a direction that makes sense to us.

A hill or a mountain is in the eye of the beholder.

Measurements shouldn't really define the soul of a mountain or a mortal.