Monday, February 17, 2014

 “In this godforsaken place [at the South Col], I felt disconnected from the climbers around me—emotionally, spiritually, physically—to a degree I hadn’t experienced on any previous expedition. We were a team in name only, I’d sadly come to realize. Although in a few hours we would leave camp as a group, we would ascend as individuals, linked to one another by neither rope nor any deep sense of loyalty. Each client was in it for himself or herself, pretty much.” [163] In Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer joins Rob Hall’s expedition on Everest as a client along with seven other strangers. Hall’s and Fischer’s expeditions are called ‘teams’ however they lacked any of the characteristics associated with teamwork. Krakauer recognizes that each climber is there for himself or herself (and is paying $65k for a summit attempt), but is aware of the importance of trusting your teammates – “One climber's actions can affect the welfare of the entire team" [47]. The members are acquaintances only, not friends, and share no common bond or experience. Unlike Annapurna: A Woman’s Place by Blum and Annapurna by Herzog, there is no shared dream or purpose. Instead of a sense of accomplishment for the team or for your country, on Everest, it’s about individual achievement.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you Max. I think that Krakauer is pointing out that everyone there is ultimately out for themselves, including himself. After reading Herzog and Blum's books, however, I find this extremely concerning. Herzog and Blum's expeditions up Annapurna all shared a common goal and purpose, to reach the top. Yet, they all trusted each other, knew each others strengths and weaknesses, and worked as a team. They also knew, for the most part, that if they could get just one person to the summit, it would be a victory for all of them (Excluding Alison and Vera). This mindset I feel is important for extreme climbing, based on reading these three texts at least, because it creates a shared workload, with everyone contributing to the eventual success of that one summit assault. I feel this increases the overall safety of the mission, at least in comparison to these guided tours on Everest. When everyone is only working for their own goals, they tend to push themselves harder than they should because they feel like they are failures if they don't reach the top themselves. By pushing themselves harder, they put their lives in greater danger, and don't have the team trust or support to count on should they get into trouble.