“There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the spirit, “who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”

   –Second Ghost, Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
After “Into Thin Air” was released, the domino effect of crushing events that led to the death of Lopsang Jangbu fell with such undeniable force it was as if the whole thing had been scripted by the meddling, malicious, and uncaring fingers of Fate. That a few errant lines from an otherwise seamless story would wind up altering the course of so many lives now seems like one of those ironic reminders that no matter how hard we try; no matter how much good we do; Lady Fate may have her own ideas for how things will play out. (Do the earthquakes and blockade not bear this out?) For example, when a self-serving leader has the power to sweep away the lives of untold millions in fulfilling his lust for power, can we think Lady Fate cares about our trials, dreams, and sufferings?

O Lady, you… this force with your mystical and brutal whims! Do you care about our successes?

Or, are you constantly weaving webs with those fickle fingers, spinning strands of colorful, and, sometimes hideous, yarn for your amusement?
If only Lopsang had been able to get Scott Fischer down to Camp Four the night of the storm, how different would his image be?
And what if Krakauer had signed on with Scott’s team rather than Rob Hall’s? What then? Would not our tale read as a triumph of heroism rather than a tragedy for the ages?
Oh the folly of man! The twists and turns and what could-have-been’s seem infinite in the space of perspective!
Dear Lady, you, who shows no favors; how thin is that line, that slender thread, which divides saint and sinner, heaven and the abyss, euphoria and the unthinkable?

And…while pondering the cruelty of injustice, might I ask, once again, why you, Dear Lady, saw fit to take the finest example of our children; the one amongst us who had the power to bring great respect and healing to his people; a poor, tortured child who went on to become the most powerful Sherpa in the Himalaya; a human being who was not afraid of any mountain, man, or obstacle; but, was terrified of dying unwept and unsung; a true protector of the Sherpa culture, a leader, a warrior, a courageous distinction he earned through fidelity to truth, remarkable common sense, extraordinary physical and mental prowess, and devotion to integrity. And this beloved child of God, who embodied all that we deem glorious in our most cherished heroes, and who gave us each day the gift of laughter, courage, and grace, was somehow deemed unworthy, by you, Lady Fate, of being embraced by the world as the most shining example of courage and triumph.

This small boy, who proved himself the strongest and bravest of all men, and who would have used every ounce of his success to bring good to his people, died a pauper, unable to leave a single bank note for his orphaned child. No, Fickle Lady — you, who bears no favor and who seems to care not whether evil or good shall inherit our beloved earth — you took this proud young warrior who changed the lives of all those he touched and allowed false hoods to be written in his name by those who did not know him; and then, with his guard down and his spirit broken, called him back to the great mountain and watched as he climbed straight to his death.