Monday, April 15, 2013


On page 69, Harrer includes an excerpt from the Zurich paper Sport which reads, "Is it either good or necessary that this realm of nature's tremendous forces should be invaded by beings which were not created as carefree mountain eagles or climbing plants, but as human beings?" (Harrer 69). This made me think about the status of mountain climbing as a sport, and if that is demeaning to the mountain or not. Like others have said, this is not armchair adventuring, but truly spectating a sport. The article suggests that humans weren't made to be on mountains. It seems like a weak justification for people not to mountain climb. However, the article does bring up the point of respecting both the mountain and the person. Should we really drive ourselves to self-annihilation through mountain climbing? Obviously, sports are positive because they are friendly yet competitive. They push human limits by making people strive to be better than before. It brings people together. Mountain climbing brings people together because you can't summit a mountain without a well-functioning team.

Harrer admits soon after that man is small in nature and especially to the mountain. But that shouldn't stop one from appreciating the beauty that nature has to offer. If appreciating that beauty means summiting the mountain for sport, so be it. Harrer makes an important distinction between those who enjoy nature passively and mountaineers (71). The mountaineer willingly exposes himself to nature's forces and danger. He fully absorbs all the awe-inspiring experiences. Why should we blame people for that? There is a way to enjoy nature both passively and actively. Why can't people pursue both?

I think the real disrespect comes from rivalries and races to reach the top. Even though these races are as old as mountaineering itself (57), mountaineering loses its glory when people want to climb simply to beat others. Harrer recalls Whymper's triumph. I remember the majority of the class hated Whymper because he was an asshole. I think he was, if you interpret him from the viewpoint that he was exploiting the mountain to win at something. That's when mountaineering is wrong, when one uses it solely to beat someone else, ignoring all the beauty aspects of nature.

No comments:

Post a Comment