The young couple is ecstatic. They’ve just reached a landmark in their lives and want to share it with everyone in the hostel. They shout in joy: “We did it, we’ve climbed Mount Doom!”. They sing songs of the Shire and dance around the tables. It almost breaks my heart, but someone must do it. Now, while they still have the chance to get things right. I have to tell them.
-I’m sorry, really sorry to break your party, but you didn’t climb Mount Doom today.
-What do you mean we didn’t? We’ve been there, today, you’ve seen us at the top!
-Well, yes, at the top of Mount Taranaki. It’s a mountain, it’s a volcano, it’s event the same type as Mount Doom – a stratovolcano, but it’s not Mount Doom.
They just stare in disbelief. So sad to see them like this, but I really hope they have a few days left in New Zealand and can still climb Mount Ngauruhoe, which “played” Mount Doom in the movie. Actually, Mount Taranaki “played” Mount Fuji in The Last Samurai, but I doubt that will cheer them up. I do my best to encourage them:
-You’re lucky, it was really good weather today, you could see Mount Doom in the distance. It’s only about 80 km from here.
-So… you mean we’ve climbed the wrong mountain?
-I’m so, so sorry for you. Try to look at it this way – you’ve climbed a real good, high mountain. And you’ve seen Mount Doom. Now go there and climb it.
-We’ve climbed the wrong mountain… It’s not Mount Doom. Not Mount Doom…
It’s the only thing they can say. Nobody’s laughing. Everybody in the hostel’s living room understands the frustration of a Tolkien fan who just thought he’s reached another landmark of his quest. Making silly remarks is the last thing on everyone’s mind. I offer them a piece of my apple pie for consolation but the young couple politely refuses. They retreat to their room, to recover their losses and plan the conquest of Mount Doom. Again. I hope they made it. We did.