National Geographic : 2007 Mar
LETTERS After viewing the cover, I couldn't help but wonder what keeping primates in labora tories and using them for our entertainment says about human evolution. ILSA MILLER San Francisco, California Greatest Mountaineer One day in 1978, I reached Popocatepetl's 5,426-meter snowy crater after a strenuous, ten-hour climb. My lungs were desperately trying to extract oxygen from the scarce sur rounding air. My legs aching, I saw the world that lay below. That moment, I felt like the king of creation. Just a few months later, news came about Reinhold Messner hav ing conquered Everest with no supplementary oxygen. That meant he climbed 3,000 more meters than I did. I didn't feel defeated nor humiliated. Once you conquer a mountain, you become aware of the standing magnificence of the mountain, as well as the cruel indifference of nature. You also recognize in yourself the surprising size of human will. I enjoyed the article in a deep way, since in a mountain, each one of us finds the same feelings Messner describes. FERNANDO OCADIZ MONTALBAN Mexico City, Mexico Caroline Alexander's article seamlessly depicts Messner's enormous mountaineering accomplishments and reveals the eccentric nature of his character. The piece left me struggling to merge a personal hero's drive and physical talent with his temperamental nature. DANIEL BOVEE Bishop, California Reinhold Messner's list of summits is impressive from a technical mountaineering standpoint, but for those of us who find peace and beauty in nature without excessively endangering ourselves, our family, or friends, his conde scension toward hiking is a little obnoxious. And which of his fabulous accomplishments really does anybody any good other than himself and the industry that surrounds him? EVAN CANTOR Boulder, Colorado I was unaware of the existence of Reinhold Messner until I read Caroline Alexander's arti cle. I cannot recall ever read ing about anyone whose life reveals more self-indulgent uselessness. Shame on NGM for devoting valuable space to this arrogant buffoon whose life has been spent solely to please his personal whims. BILL MAHAN Alamosa, Colorado Reinhold Messner is an extraor dinary man. As he states, "There are moments in diffi cult situations, far away, that there is no more doubt. There, the questions are gone .... If the question is gone, I have not to answer. Myself living I am the answer." To me, this quote is the purist expression of Zen I can imagine. Mess ner's "ego identification" with success and achievement is cancelled out by those ultimate moments of self-obliteration on the face of an icy rock wall, immersed in the now, thanks to his tremendous powers of concentration. Now, that's real meditation. MICHAEL GAST New York, New York "FOR THE INCREASE AND DIFFUSION OF GEOGRAPHIC KNOWLEDGE" The National Geographic Society is chartered in Washington, D.C., as a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. Since 1888 the Society has supported more than 8,000 explorations and research projects, adding to knowledge of earth, sea, and sky. JOHN M. FAHEY,JR., President and CEO EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENTS Terrence B. Adamson Linda Berkeley, President, Enterprises Terry D. Garcia, Mission Programs John Q. Griffin, President, Magazine Group Nina D. Hoffman, President, Books and School Publishing Group Betty Hudson, Communications Christopher A. Liedel, CFO BOARD OF TRUSTEES Gilbert M. Grosvenor, Chairman Reg Murphy, Vice Chairman Joan Abrahamson, Michael R. Bonsignore, Martha E. Church, Roger A. Enrico, John M. Fahey, Jr., Daniel S. Goldin, John Jay Iselin, James C. Kautz, J. Willard Marriott, Jr., Floretta Dukes McKenzie, George Munoz, Patrick F. Noonan, Nathaniel P Reed, Rozanne L. Ridgway, James R. Sasser, B. Francis Saul II, Gerd Schulte-Hillen TRUSTEES EMERITUS Joe L. Allbritton, William L. Allen, Thomas E. Bolger, Frank Borman, Lewis M. Branscomb, Robert L. Breeden, Michael Collins, Lloyd H. Elliott, George M. Elsey, Mrs. Lyndon B.Johnson, William K. Reilly, Robert C. Seamans, Jr. COUNCIL OF ADVISORS Roger A. Enrico, Chairman Darlene T. Anderson, Michael R. Bonsignore, Howard G. Buffett, Craig D. Campbell, Jean N. Case, Juliet C. Folger, Robert B.Haas, Robert A. Hefner III, David H. Koch, lara Lee, Bruce L. Ludwig, Sally Engelhard Pingree, W. Russell Ramsey, Catherine B. Reynolds, Joseph E. Robert, Jr., Edward P.Roski, Jr., Victoria P Sant, B. Francis Saul II, Michele Sofisti, Ted Waitt, Garry A. Weber, Tracy R. Wolstencroft RESEARCH AND EXPLORATION COMMITTEE Peter H. Raven, Chairman John M. Francis, Vice Chairman Keith Clarke, Steven M. Colman, Scott V. Edwards, Philip Gingerich, William L. Graf, Nancy Knowlton, Dan M. Martin, Scott E. Miller, Jan Nijman, Stuart L. Pimm, Elsa M. Redmond, Bruce D. Smith, Patricia C. Wright, Melinda A. Zeder EXPLORERS-IN-RESIDENCE Robert Ballard, Wade Davis, Jared Diamond, Sylvia Earle, J. Michael Fay, Zahi Hawass, Beverly Joubert, Dereck Joubert, Louise Leakey, Meave Leakey, Johan Reinhard, Paul Sereno, Spencer Wells MISSION PROGRAMS Vice Presidents: Barbara A. Chow, Education Foundation John M. Francis, Research, Conservation, and Exploration Jacqueline M. Hollister, Development Sarah Laskin, Public Programs Exhibits: Susan S. Norton Expeditions Council:Rebecca Martin Geography Bee: Mary Lee Elden Lectures: P.Andrew van Duym, Gregory A. McGruder Human Resources:Thomas A. Sablo, Sr. Vice President International: Robert W. Hernandez, Sr. Vice President Treasurer: H. Gregory Platts, Sr. Vice President NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC VENTURES Dennis R. Patrick, Chairman Timothy T. Kelly, President and CEO Edward M. Prince, Jr., COO National Geographic Channel: David Haslingden, President, International;Laureen Ong, President, U.S . Digital Media: Chris McAndrews, President National Geographic Maps: FrancesA. Marshall, President;Allen Carroll, Chief Cartographer Television: Michael Rosenfeld, President Contributions to the National Geographic Society are tax deductible under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S.tax code. Copyright © 2007 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved. National Geographic and Yellow Border: Registered Trademarks ® Marcas Registradas. National Geographic assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials. Printed in U.S .A .