Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Friendship or partnership?

In the section “Ten Years On…” Simpson writes “The rope cutting had clearly touched a nerve, transgressed some unwritten rule, and people seemed to be drawn to that element of the story – until I wrote it down as honestly as I could” (206). So I had a couple questions about that snippet, the first being if this was a highly publicized event immediately following their return from the Andes? I’m just curious as to whether the story was widely publicized before this book was published or whether Simpson is mostly referring to the mountaineering community. Yates seems to know that he will be subject to inevitable criticism and I was wondering as to whether or not that was expected from a wide audience or just the mountaineering community. The passage also brings up the question that we began when discussing Into Thin Air – is their morality at 8,000 meters?

I was also struck by the depiction of Simpson and Yates’ climbing partnership. I was impressed with how both Simpson and Yates accepted the necessity of cutting the rope. Even though the act received criticism, both seem to agree upon the fact that it was the right course of action. I feel like it would have been so easy for Simpson to have a different reaction and portray the experience differently and in a more negative light. Instead, he acknowledges the difficulty of the decision: “How much he had been through I could only guess at” (193). There’s something very honest and relatable to their relationship. Originally I had written friendship or partnership, but I wasn’t sure which word more accurately described their relationship. To me, there seems to be a subtle difference and I’m not sure if I can use those two words interchangeably here. I’m reminded of Bancroft’s visit where she was talking about how much she has to work at her relationship with Arensen even after undergoing a long polar expedition together and being in the midst of planning another. I have to wonder what Simpson and Yates’ relationship is like now, so many years after the incident. 

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