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Bigger than Everest

by John Morris

Bigger than Everest - Present Challenges and God's Challenger

"In March 1923, in an interview with The New York Times, the British mountaineer George Leigh Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, and replied, 'Because it's there'. The answer became famous, not least because Mallory himself was lost on Everest in the following year. It was sometimes suggested that he and his fellow-climber Andrew Irvine, who were last seen 'going strong for the summit', might in fact have reached it before their deaths, but there was no proof.

"In May 1999, 75 years later, the body of George Mallory was found on Everest, and the press coverage surrounding the discovery focused again on Mallory's 'Because it's there' as a statement summarizing the mountaineer's reasons for climbing. One such report quoted from Robert William Service's `Dauntless Quest', which was inspired by Mallory's words:

"'Why seek to scale Mount Everest,
Queen of the Air,
Why strive to crown that cruel crest
And deathward dare?
Said Mallory of dauntless quest
`Because it's there.'"

Sir Edmund Hillary's view of mountain climbing was similar:

"Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it." (2)

I was aged 18 and was on vacation at the end of my first year at the University of New South Wales where I was studying Commerce. At the same time my father had a Morris Minor panel van which he used in his discount house business in Sydney.  It did not take too much trouble to get him to agree to my using the panel van for a holiday trip. The business shut down for the Christmas/New year week

The route was down the Hume Highway to Melbourne where some kind friends at Nunawading Church took pity on a lone young man and provided accommodation for Friday and Saturday nights, then around the coastal route on the  Princes Highway to Orbost,  inland to Jindabyne and Mt Kosciusko and return home via Cooma and Canberra..

I arrived at Delegate late one evening.  Delegate is located close to the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria. It is some 760 metres (2,500 feet) above sea level which means it can get pretty cold at night summer or not. I found the local camping ground down by the river and bedded down for the night. Remember, the vehicle was a panel van, a working vehicle with no insulation, minimum fit out only. It got cold, really cold and I froze.

There was only one way out. I got my small cooking stove, which ran on methylated spirits and after clearing some space near the back doors, I lit the stove and warmed the inside of the van somewhat. At last I got some sleep. No, the van did not catch fire; there was no miraculous escape to flavour the story. As soon as there was enough light I got out of the place and was able to use the heat generated by the engine to warm me and the van as I headed for Mt Kosciuszko

In those days it was possible to drive to the top of Mt Kosciusko. You are not allowed to do it today. The road remains for emergency use and for staff of the National Park who care for the area. It was a great feeling to step out on top of the world.  The road was unsealed and there was little to aid the tourist. Mt Kosciusko has the distinction of being the lowest of the seven highest peaks on each continent, and the only one that you can drive to.  It is not as dramatic as other peaks. It is a big bump on the top of the range but from it you can see for miles.

The Snowy Mountain Scheme was well underway at this time. The Eucumbene Dam had been recently completed and Lake Eucumbene was filling. The township of Adaminaby was to be flooded, with the new township being constructed some kilometers away with much of the buildings in Old Adaminaby being transferred. My trip coincided with the dam filling and I had a chance to pretend to be escaping the rising flood waters.

The drive to the "Rim of the World" at the eastern end of the Los Angeles basin in  California is quite a contrast to the drive up to the top of Kosciusko. I had been staying with friends at Loma Linda close to the eastern end of the Los Angeles basin on one occasion. After church that weekend we had lunch in a local park, then went for a drive. Heading north through the business area of Loma Linda we crossed the freeway to Palm Springs then headed for Lake Arrowhead along North Waterman Street that leads direct to the Rim of the World Highway. The highway starts off with 3 lanes and as the road climbs higher into the San Bernardino Mountains eventually becomes a single lane each way. The road however is a wide open facility with "turnouts" to let faster vehicles pass. Gulleys are bridged, there are no sharp corners, no unsealed surfaces.

Every 1000 feet change in elevation you will find a sign stating the elevation. What impressed me was that at the top of the road you are well over 1000 feet above Mt Kosciuszko. The view must be visible sometimes but when? Being at the eastern end of the Los Angeles basin all the smog gets blown into this end. We could hardly see the south side of the basin let alone pick out Loma Linda University where we had spent the morning.

It was Friday - November 1984. Cathy had sat her last examination for the Higher School Certificate and had come into my office in the Sydney CBD. I had brought the packed bags with me to work that morning, ready for our long weekend adventure. We were off to Tasmania as a school finishing reward.  Getting a taxi at 3.00 pm on any week day is a problem. For some reason the taxi industry has selected 3.00 pm as the time to change shifts. No taxis came down York Street. I could see the occasional cab passing down George Street a block away. I thought of walking the extra block but it would be just as risky and put me further away from a potential resource.

I decided to use that resource and going back into the office co-opted a work place associate to take us to Mascot. We arrived at the airport just before, make that seconds, before the flight closed. We collapsed into the seats and had a trouble free flight to Melbourne where we changed planes for Wynyard on the Bass Strait side of Tasmania.

The plane arrived over Wynyard to find the airport covered in cloud. Various attempts were made to land but without success. The plane would drop down into the clouds and in doing so dropped below the level of sunlight, then back up it would fly and into the sunshine again. The pilot gave up the attempts eventually and flew east to Launceston, the major town on the northern side of the island where a rough and wet landing got us safely down on terra firma.

On Sunday morning we moved off early heading back towards Wynyard and the turnoff to Cradle Mountain. Cradle Mountain is not the highest mountain in Tasmania but at 1545 metres forms the northern feature of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park with Mt Ossa at 1617 metres and Tasmania's highest Mountain further  south in the Park. As the name suggests the mountain has a distinct cradle shape when viewed from the north or from the south.

Cathy and I made the circuit of the north end of the park climbing Cradle Mountain on the way around. Being November, there was still some snow on the ground giving a gentle reminder of the changeability of the weather in this area. Anyone walking in the path is well advised to assume that even in the middle of summer, the weather can change in a moment and protective clothing is a must for your pack.  The view was exhilarating. On the west was the bulk of Barn Bluff standing proud above the plateau. To the south one could pick out other high peaks that hid the view of Lake St Clair. Nothing like Mt Everest but high enough to give warm fuzzy feelings at a successful climb.

The Warrumbungles are located 7 - 8 hours drive north west of Sydney on the eastern edges of the Western Plains.  The Warrumbungle Mountains are the remnants of a complex shield volcano and are part of a series of volcanic mountains in north-eastern New South Wales and south-eastern Queensland which include Mount Kaputar National Park (to the north east) and Mount Canobolas near Orange. "By the time volcanic eruptions ceased the Warrumbungle volcano was a large shield volcano some 50 km across. Repeated eruptions occurred from the many vents in its broad shield over an almost circular area of about 1,200 square kilometres. The domes of Bluff Mountain, Timor Rock and Belougery Split Rock and the volcanic necks and dykes which form Crater Bluff, Belougery Spire and the Breadknife were intruded through and over flat sedimentary rocks, creating the dramatic landscape of the park." (3)

The park has a number of features with the highest point being Mt Exmouth at 1,206 metres. It is a unique spot. Take a line west from Mt Exmouth and you will meet the Western Australia coast around Cape Leschenault a short distance north of Perth. In between the only area across the width of Australia that could block the view west is Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges with Saint Marys Peak  (South Australia's highest mountain) on its southern edges at 1,171 metres. The view from the top of Mt Exmouth west is flat, you can almost see the curvature of the earth on the horizon.

We first visited the park in 1964. Accommodation was provided in a number of ex Sydney trams which were removed in 1986. The beds were hard but the stay was enjoyable. The centre of the park spans some 7 x 10 kilometres and contains  major features including the Breadknife, Belougery Spire, Crater Bluff, Bluff Mountain, and Mt Exmouth with Belougery Split Rock about 4 km to the north west. The southern side of Bluff Mountain is a relatively gentle slope and I had the thrill of watching a couple of eagles soaring not more than 3 metres over the top of my head down slope, into the adjacent valley and then over the top of the mountain again.

Walking to Mt Exmouth, and the climb to the top is not overly difficult, I was intrigued to find a large group of common spotted ladybirds resting on the stone cairn at the top of the mountain.

On another occasion we took the girls for their first campout together. Marilyn spent most of the walking time in my rucksack, while Cathy at 9 years of age did quite well on her own steam. On this trip we were spotted by a family from Lithgow who recognised the bushwalking club chevron on my pack and shirt.

Nebuchadnezzar, the greatest king of the Babylonian empire was disturbed by a dream of a great image that met a dramatic end when a stone "cut without hands" hit the image, smashed it to pieces and became a great mountain that filled the whole earth. Portraying in broad brush format the history of the world God answered Nebuchadnezzar's concerns, via Daniel, regarding succession in his kingdom.  Babylon would pass away, as would its replacements, until "the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" Dan 2:44 Bigger than Everest, for sure, and the biggest thing the world will ever see.

Nebuchadnezzar was being advised not to depend on what was on offer from a worldly viewpoint. Being a king might be seen to have advantages, but there was no guarantee or certainty of survival, no guarantee of his name being carried on ad infinitum. As the prophetic dream foretold, successive kingdoms came onto the world stage, and then were overtaken. Medo-Persia overthrew Babylon, to be overthrown in turn by Greece. Rome followed, finally to be divided. Modern times have seen attempts by such as Charlemagne, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Hitler to rule "the world" only to come to nought. Of recent years institutions such as the League of Nations which operated between the first and second world wars, the United Nations, and the European Economic Community have tried to provide peaceful unity of sorts and have failed.

"We need not, and cannot, expect union among the nations of the earth. Our position in the image of Nebuchadnezzar is represented by the toes, in a divided state, and of a crumbling material, that will not hold together. Prophecy shows that the great day of God is right upon us. It hasteth greatly." (4) God provided a concise picture of world history from the time of Nebuchadnezzar to the end of time. Time is running out. "For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision" Joel 3:14.  The Mountain of the Lord, bigger than Everest, bigger than the whole world, is about to break into the scene.

"Down in the feet of iron and of clay, weak and divided, soon to pass away; What will the next great, glorious drama be? Christ and His coming and eternity" (5)



(1) Accessed 11 January 2008

(2)  Accessed 7 January 2009

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service,
Sydney, 1997

Testimonies for the Church. Vol 1 P 361. E.G.White
Pacific Press Publishing Association,  Mountain View, California  1948

Look for the Waymarks. F.E.Belden Hymn 596
The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal, Signs Publishing Company
Warburton Victoria1 1985

"Scripture quoted is taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers"

This article and the pictures it contains are Copyright © 2009 by John L Morris.  Used by permission.

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 32 - December 2009 / January 2010 > Bigger than Everest (by John Morris)