Monday, March 11, 2013

Mountains Foster…

Muir’s Stickeen shows that the glacier nightmare the narrator endured with the dog, Stickeen, fostered a bond between the two that later made them inseparable. Muir described sharing glances with Stickeen that spoke of a private understanding of what they had gone through, indicating a unique and unbreakable bond. On the other hand, Tabor’s Forever on the Mountain gave an account of mighty dissension in the ranks of the twelve expeditioners before they even arrived at the base of McKinley. I’ve only reached the beginning of Part 2, where Steve has fallen ill just before the approach, but Muir writes “‘This would be a good opportunity to melt the icy bubble that seemed to surround the Colorado group.’ / Unfortunately, bubbles of ice, with their sharp edges and frozen cores, do not succumb easily.” (pg 75) I’m curious to see a further account of the group dynamics on McKinley as the story goes on, but from my own personal experience, being in a close-quarters, extreme situation tends to bring people closer and build trust, as Muir experienced with the dog. I was surprised at reading the opposite in Tabor’s book (despite several minutes of searching, I was unable to locate the quote, but it’s before page 75 somewhere) in which it was asserted that the high-altitude, no-escape situation the men were in tended to bring out the worst in them and foster anger, resentment, and mistrust instead. I admit confusion on this point, and I’m not convinced yet. Although, the way the expedition started out was not promising and I tend to think that Joe Wilcox shouldn’t have allowed it to go forward with so little social meshing. 

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