Monday, February 4, 2013

Thoughts on Annapurna

     I consider myself to be a fairly tough person.  Just the other week, someone told me they were really afraid of me for the first two years of college, but they were glad to find out that I am "actually a nice person."  When I got my first tattoo, I told jokes the whole time, blissfully unaware that the needle creating the image on my ankle should have been hurting me very, very much.  One time, in preschool, I threw a block at the face of a boy who told me girls belonged in the kitchen.  Not even the threat of the time-out chair could convince me to back down.
     Like most people, however, I have my Achilles' heel.  For me, it is my fear of heights.  All of my tough-talking exterior disappears when you make me get up high.  Thus, the scene I caused at the rock climbing wall last week.  While I did eventually conquer my fear to the point where I could jump off the ledge, I definitely would constitute a liability on an actual expedition.
     I bring this up because what struck me while reading Annapurna was how surprised the climbers seemed to be at how hard the climb actually was.  From the comfort of my overly heated dorm room, I wanted to scream at them, "It's an 8,000 meter mountain, OF COURSE IT'S HARD. Stop drinking so much tea and figure out what you're going to do."  To my often overly analytical brain, what these climbers are attempting often seems "stupid."  But then I realized that a healthy dose of "stupidity" might be the only way to get yourself up a mountain, or in my case, off a ledge.


  1. I couldn't agree more. I was clueless as to how much preparation and planning went into a successful expedition. This group didn't even have an accurate map of what they were climbing! They went in basically blind to the task at hand. This approach to climbing really made me realize the appreciation I have for climbers and explorers in general. These men and women must be cautious but all while taking necessary risks. Every step seems to be a risk! So while you need some self reliance and common sense, you do need to be a little crazy to take the ill advised risks to get to the top.

    1. I thought another interesting aspect of the risk-taking part of the expedition was the way one man's plan was a risk worth taking, but to another, it was simply too risky. When we are on the climbing wall, someone afraid heights (I'm right there with you Claire!) might go beyond their comfort zone because the rest of the class being present makes us feel we have too--out there in the mountains, it's not simply a case of pushing yourself another few feet to prove you can get over your fear, but risking your life. The trouble, of course, is that none of the expedition would be possible to be done in pairs, if not a larger group, so you're actually putting everyone's life at risk. It's what Herzog dealt with as the leader, but we see it time and time again where the men disagree on the best route to take, or how high up to push--to say no to a plan because it is too risky might be the smart move, but effectively destroy's the other man's dream, but to be silently submissive is to put everyone at risk.