Summit Fever: What Drives Everest Climbers?

I'm mesmerized by world-class mountain climbing and would probably pursue it 24/7 if only I had the skills. Instead I pursue writing, an equally mad man skill. Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air is one of my favorite books. Here Dave Banks writes about "The Little Deaths" and what propels certain people to the top.  

In mountaineering, there is a phenomenon known as ‘Summit Fever’ in which the heightened anticipation of summiting out weighs all reasoning. It is a step into the Twilight Zone where one’s critical faculties take a leave of absence and reckless decision making begins. The boiling frog story is often used as a metaphor for the inability of people toperceive significant changes that occur gradually - the premise is that if a frog is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, the animal will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

In Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air, he describes climbers so intoxicated by the drive to get to the summit that the common sense of survival gets discarded even when exhaustion, dehydration and bad weather becomes overwhelmingly evident – not to mention the absence of fellow climbers who have met their death.

Summit fever is not only limited to the tallest peaks in the world but can be found anywhere the human spirit is challenged- including the Sahara Desert.