Have you ever walked at an altitude of 4,000 meters? According to this Altitude Oxygen Chart, the effective oxygen percentage at the top of Klein Matterhorn (3,883m) where I was a week ago, the oxygen percentage is at an average of 13%. Compare this to Mount Everest (6.8%) and it seems pathetic. Put it into perspective with oxygen levels our systems produce at sea level (21%) and you see a picture forming.
This was our first experience of such heights. The highest our feet have taken us is Mount Musala in the Balkans – 2925m. Before you get too excited, no, we did not walk all the way to the top of Klein Matterhorn. We walked an average of 1000m up before taking a cable car, two in fact. And despite my aversion to lazy, cable-car riding tourists, I became one of them.
We are not climbers, we are hikers. And although I have aspired to become a climber one day (yes, my wildest fantasies include conquering Mount Everest), that day was not yet the day. And so, we rode to Klein Matterhorn and gave into the 360° panorama.
This was a memorable moment. A different world. One where the human presence is not always welcome nor safe. Where the word ‘traffic’ has no meaning and the only noise you can hear is the howling wind. Where the air is so pure you feel a little hazy from walking up a few steps.
I wonder if my obsession with Mount Everest is nothing but a pipe dream. There is a graveyard in Zermatt where so many climbers rest, victims of nature’s pull, like a call of the sea but a little higher.
The mountains have taken so many lives. They are a beautiful, treacherous friend who somehow knows how to rid us of our fears and make us carry our concerns on our shoulders, just like a back-pack. They know how precious they are and they use it to their advantage but how can one blame them?
The mountains rule the world. Not the politicians, not the multi-billion dollar oil companies. No, it is the mountains.