I was put off, just as mentioned in class today, by the racism and colonialist mentality displayed by Herzog in his narration. The use of the derogatory term "coolies," as well as his derisive descriptions of the Sherpas were offensive, to say the least. He often referred to his porters as having "Mongolian faces" and exotic, but ugly features. Herzog writes, "His typically Mongolian face was adorned with a blue balaclava surmounted by his dark glasses." (Herzog 93) This is just after he describes him as the strongest of the Sherpas and being entrusted to an importent task. Furthermore, he fetishizes and objectifies the women, including young girls. The manner in which he describes the young girls by the water is akin to describing a nymph or plaything. "Two particularly pretty and graceful girls were doing their laundry in the spring; they were clean, their hair was carefully done, and they wore work-day saris of calico. Their movements as they beat their washing allowed us to admire their supple, well-made bodies." (Herzog 65) Here, the Nepalese girls seem to be less human and more object. The adjectives "clean" and "supple" are unsettling. At the very least, Herzog shows sympathy for the girl as she limps away on uneven legs.
Another interesting part of the the book was the effort it took to even find Annapurna. Much of the stress comes from repeated returning to camps and trying out different passages. I guess much of my surprise comes from forgetting that these men were allegedly the first to summit Annapurna. I have already read a good portion of Blum's Annapurna, which seems to be a much less trying expedition so far, but then I realized that they didn't have to find Annapurna in the first place. I noticed the similarities in which both authors opened their respective narratives by describing members of their team. Both authors made sure to talk nobly, almost romantically, of the skills and experience each individual member brought. I picked up a contrast between masculine and feminine. As we talked about in class, much of the language used in Herzog's account had to do with victory, conquering, and colonialism. However, Blum's team is on the defensive. They're out to prove something, both seizing but also protecting the image of women. She imagines how it would look if the women had to be helicoptered out of Annapurna; the shame would have been unbearable. Blum's crew is also clearly more harmonious with the porters.