Monday, February 25, 2013


One of the most interesting things that I have found about this book is the intersection of religion and climbing experiences in the story. Most obviously, I am thinking of the ominous forecast of the climbing season. In this book, Jamling describes the advice he got from various lamas about the bad climbing that was to come as well as the rituals he must perform in order to ensure safety on the mountain.

For example, when Jamling and his wife go to see Geshe Rimpoche, the family lama, to get a divination about his climb, the lama tells him:
"There are obstacles... the mountain will see some difficulties this year. The season looks bad...but not entirely unfavorable." (pg 23)
Jamling also describes that the expedition fell during a "black year" (pg 42), which is the most dangerous year in a nine year cycle.

I found that this prediction of danger on the mountain mirrored some aspects of Krakauer's book, Into Thin Air. For example, the guide Rob Hall describes his unease with the amount of people on the mountain and states that he is sure that with so many people on the mountain, something will inevitably go wrong sooner rather than later.

What I like most about the parallels between these two predictions is that they come from such different sources but they amount to more or less the same thing. Obviously these books have been written in the aftermath of the terrible events and there could have been some skewing of information to fit the outcome of the adventures, but both an experienced climber and a religious non-climber both predicted a similar fateful outcome of trips on Mount Everest. Maybe it is living near the mountain and spending time on the peak itself that gives people insight into the type of season that will ensue, but more than one person felt uneasy about the 1996 season.

1 comment:

  1. Although the sources of bad omens themselves differ from each other, I would say that they are also much the same - both men had a gut feeling that turned out to be spot on. And throughout Krakauer's and Tenzing's texts multiple people from multiple walks of life expressed unexplainable bad feelings. I think that after a certain point, when one is doing extreme adventuring, the GPS, the maps, the satellite imaging, the history can only get you so far. It seems like when someone has a bad feeling, it usually comes true. Moral? Use your instruments, but trust your gut, I guess. Although there is that point near the end after the tragedies high on the mountain when Tenzing wanted to leave and not try for the summit again.