Reinhold Messner wrote, in his book, The Big Walls:
" The Big Walls are the royal discipline in mountaineering terms. They embody all of the things that make climbing what it is... size, scale, difficulty, exposure, remoteness and the reduction of equipment to a minimum."
Centuries before and certainly after Hillary & Norgay broke through on Everest in 1953, climbers countered risk with knowledge, intelligence and foresight. The logistics, route planning, supply, climbing ahead of each camp to set ropes and acclimatize. All of this was done with some or without any help. Each climber literally dedicated their lives to it. Mountain Climbing may have been the first Extreme Sport and it is no less than that today. Every day of the year people are out there, climbing with skills and talent that few can conceive. They practice their sport in silence and desolation on the edge, often times only perfection means survival. Technical prowess is one part of it but respect and leadership foster the ability to make objective, unpopular, life saving decisions.
The south face of Dhaulagiri, east face of Monte Rosa, the Dolomites, Eiger, Denali, Matterhorn and hundreds of others you have never heard of, meet Messners criteria. None of them will ever act as the set of a reality TV show.
Before, during and after the Himalayan climbing season we always read articles chronicling" The Ultimate Mt. Everest climbing triumph". There is a long list of first ascents by every size, shape and persuasion of climber. I absolutely cannot take anything away from any of those people and their achievements. What we need to understand is that climbing Mt. Everest is a free for all today. Base camp has all the amenities of home and more than resembles a season long frat party. Tour companies practically guarantee semi celebrities the summit for the right price ( $100k +/- ). The ladders are in position, the ropes are set in advance, oxygen bottles are warehoused at high camps. Sherpa's do more of the work than ever, including carrying some clients part way on their backs. The 15 people that died there in 1996 and many others since, suffered from lack of discipline, ignorance and bad judgment. Many just had no business being there. The publicity and popularity surrounding this Everest phenomenon doesn't show Chomolungma... Sagarmatha much respect. Neither does the estimated 10 tons of garbage strewn along the South Col.
Sometimes it takes everything you have just to put up a field goal, so lots of teams never go to the Super Bowl. But anyone that pays a scalper a hundred grand to get there, better stay off the field if they don't want to get crushed.
Read about Climbing:
Dick Best; The 7 Summits, John Krakauer; Eiger Dreams,
Anatoli Boukreev; The Climb, David Breashears; High Exposure