Tuesday, April 9, 2013


While recounting the events that brought him and Croz back together, Whymper laments "If any one of the links of this fatal chain of circumstances had been omitted, what a different story I should have to tell!" (383) However, Whymper's story did not read like a recount of a tragic event as this quote implies. He barely discusses his fallen "comrades," and upon their death he instead worries about the cowardice of his other teammates and the dangers that he can potentially face from thinning rope. He says: "For the next two hours afterwards I thought almost every moment that the next would be my last" (399). I don't blame him for being scared and worrying about his own safety -- this seems like a very natural thing to do after receiving such a terrible shock. However, I found his writing to imply that he cared more about how the death of his teammates scared him than the tragedy of lost lives. This narrative (at least the sections that we read), are about his obsession with summiting, and I think for Whymper the deaths of his teammates were merely blemishes on his overall summit 'victory.'

On a sidenote, I also have a particularly old, falling apart copy of this book from the library (so my page numbers are probably different than the rest of the class'). I found that reading from this copy added to my understanding of the datedness of this narrative.

1 comment:

  1. I was also surprised by the lack of attention Whymper paid to the other climbers' deaths. He recounted their accident in one paragraph and in a very matter-of-fact tone. Then Whymper writes "So perished our comrades!" and launched back into his own struggles. I wrote in the page margin, "That's it?!" I couldn't believe that Whymper would pass over the deaths of his comrades so nonchalantly.
    However, perhaps more so than previous books, "Scrambles Amongst the Alps" focuses intently on the adventure and exploration aspects of the climb. Whereas books such as "Into Thin Air" and "Forever on the Mountain" focus on recreating a tragedy, "Scrambles Amongst the Alps" serves as a chronological retelling of one adventurer's career. Therefore, though Whymper acknowledges the tragedy, it is only a small part of the more comprehensive adventure narrative.