The Weekender is your guide and open thread for the weekend, presented by the fine folks at Viva The Matadors. Things to quote, read, look, watch, and listen to for the weekend. Let's do this.
This weekend, we delve into climbing Everest, but only because we're reading about climbing Denali. Also, we find out why every chicken friend steak looks the same and you should cherish the ones that don't. Also, we watch the crowds at Everest and listen to Portage & Main.
"People ask me, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?' and my answer must at once be, 'It is of no use.'There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron... If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for."
"Because it's there."
There are lots of good reads about climbing Mt. Everest, but I very much enjoyed this National SB Nation long read about climbing Mt. Denali, which is a lot like running a marathon. You can’t just go whenever you want, you have to be patient and wait:
When I met him, he was back to climb both Denali and nearby Mount Hunter, which one climber told me is "the gnarliest fourteener on the continent"—he’d already completed an ascent of Mount Huntington, and was slated to spend 65 days in the Alaska Range in all. He and his partner planned to use the West Buttress route to get acclimated, and then attempt the much more challenging, technical Cassin Ridge, a true climbing route that covers 9,000 feet of altitude gain in just two miles of steep ice walls and knife-edge ridges. He didn’t want to get ahead of himself, though.
"It’s so easy to say ‘It’s just a walk-up,’" he said, "but I think that complacency kills a lot of people. That’s not going to change. That’s just how the mountain works."
Also, and this is a great turn from the mountains, but I really enjoyed history of the Chicken Fried Steak via Texas Monthly:
You can find the result of this all over Texas, in big cities and small towns. Today, if you walk into a rural diner and order a chicken-fried steak, you will likely receive, situated alongside white-gravy mashed potatoes, a standardized puck of beef boasting around 1,500 calories and 105 grams of fat. It may not be the best meal you’ve ever had, or the healthiest, but it will be thawed with love, warmed to perfection, and perhaps even served with a hokey dose of ersatz country pride.
In a way, we asked for this. A mediocre and relatively inexpensive chicken-fried steak defrosted at a local "fast-casual" restaurant is what we get for leaving the land, abandoning the kitchen, and tossing off tradition. Most people think the trade-off is worth it.
This is one of my favorite sites of all time, Exploding Dog. No, it is not an actual exploding dog or anything like that, but it’s this really cool photos and prints drawn by Sam Brown. Sam Brown isn't this guy's real name. You can read about Exploding Dog and Sam Brown in this Daily Dot interview where he talks about how he hasn't had a "real" job since 2001 when he really started doing all of this full time. I also bought Brown’s new book for Fitsum for Christmas and Fitsum very much likes it. Beep. Beep. Beep.
Since we’re sorta on the topic of climbing mountains, I thought this was pretty cool (you know how I love time lapse):
I’m pretty sure that I was listening to someone on SoundCloud and then it just sorta rolled into a "similar artist" and it wasn’t until I was 3 songs deep into this album, that I figure out that I was listening to a new band, Portage & Main. It is some former punk guys from Canada that found their calling in country music and it’s really good. Or at least I liked it.