What differentiates the explorer from other humans is his answer to the following question:
“If you could experience something that no one else ever had, but the cost was your own life, would it be worth it?”
“Yes,” says the explorer. Other humans would ask what the questioner had been smoking, or say such an endeavour would be a waste of life, or something equally silly.
But the explorer reasons thusly: “None of us will survive life. Life therefore must be lived in such a way as to experience it from as many different points as possible.”
Of course, it would be nice to survive long enough to communicate something of that perspective to those who couldn’t be there; this is the distinction between exploration and reconnaissance. But the experience itself is the essence of both.
(Thoughts occasioned by http://willerup.com/climbing/_mallory.html. Cheers.)