At 29,028 feet, the summit of Mount Everest is known as the top of the world. To many mountaineers it is the goal of a lifetime to stand at its crest. The path to the peak is riddled with crevasses, near-vertical rock, ice slopes and howling winds. The sheer challenge of getting there has drawn many adventurers to attempt the climb to the top. One thing is certain though, it cannot be accomplished alone. If you are going to make it, you will have to put your confidence in someone else to take you there…and back.
In the spring of 1996, twelve individuals put their faith in the one man that they thought could get them there. That man was Rob Hall. An expert alpinist, he had developed an effective training program that could take inexperienced climbers and place them on the summit. After weeks of preparation on the lower slopes, Hall felt his group was ready. Before they began, he set down some ground rules. The most emphasized rule was a predetermined “turnaround” time of 2 p.m. on the final leg of the climb. They were to abide by this rule no matter how close they were to the top. After four days they were near the summit. The final assault would begin that night. It appeared that Hall’s ability in leadership was paying off. As the party pushed off into the twilight, conditions seemed perfect apart from a stiffening wind. Then they found that the safety ropes had been torn away by previous storms.
Waiting for the guides to rig the ropes slowed the pace considerably and at 27,600 feet, with their bottled oxygen running low, survival was a race against time. Toward midday and roughly three hours away from the summit, two of Hall’s clients, concerned about the lagging pace, turned around and headed down. The others, encouraged by Hall, continued. By 2 p.m. less then half of the group had made the summit, and as they began their descent, snow started to fall. Hall, at the back of the pack, working with the slower climbers, now made a fateful decision. Being close to the top, he ignored his own rule and continued the climb. At 3:30 p.m. along with some others he stood on the top. With their oxygen nearly depleted and a storm intensifying they started down. They never made it. Engulfed in a blizzard that raged for two days, they perished. Magnifying this tragedy was the fact that other expeditions on the mountain that day followed the lead of the legendary Rob Hall, continuing their ascent and disregarding the instructions they had agreed on. In all, there were 12 fatalities.
Another lofty goal that many hope to attain is Heaven. How confident are you of getting there with what you’re depending on? And how reliable is the source of that dependence? The Bible reminds us, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.” In your pursuit of Heaven there is no margin for error. To be in God’s Paradise, you must come God’s way, through the precious blood of Christ. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” Trusting in anyone or anything else will leave you exposed to the coming storm of judgment.