Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The two man travel dynamic that dominates the first half of the book was very interesting, I thought. There was quite a bit of temper involved, highlighting the difficulties of trust and companionship when two people are climbing a mountain roped together, with no support team or rescue crew. On their way up the mountain, Simpson acknowledges that "We had got angry enough with each other today, and more of the same wouldn't help" (62). They curse at each other and share meals, they take turns breaking trail, and Yates risks his own life trying to lower Simpson down the mountain, but there is an element of theater that remains as long as they are together. I'm not sure if I want to call it tough guy machismo, but Simpson is vey careful not to show his fear, which is a recurring theme of the climb. Later, when his leg is broken, in his fear of abandonment and certainty that he will die, both Simpson and Yates put on the act that nothing major has happened. It sounded like a frustrating adherence to a particular brand of masculinity at first, but then I remembered how important it is not to spook the team in a dangerous situation. In the midst of a frightening, odds-are-against-us situation, that veneer of confidence and good cheer can make the difference between striving to live and giving in to frozen, broken limbs, something I thought this text emphasized effectively.

1 comment:

  1. I'm interested by your mention of presenting a good, strong front when under stress. It is a strange paradox that people in these kinds of situations, where they have to depend on each other, cannot afford to allow panic to enter the team dynamic. And panic and fear tend to spread quickly. Thus the attempt to hide it. Fake it til you make it, right?