Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Sherpa's Point of View

Ok.  So this is the fourth book we have read about mountaineering, and I am getting getting kinda tired of reading a hundred or so pages about the damn journey to base camp.  It kinda just drags on...ugh.  Anyways enough ranting about that.  What I do like about Norgay's book is that we finally get a sherpa's point of view about climbing the high peaks of the world.  But not just any sherpa, the son of Tenzing Norgay!  This adds another level to this book, the father-son conflict/relationship, that I find interesting and enjoyable.  This, combined with Norgay's narrative, makes for a very different read than Krakauer's book.  Instead of reading about a harrowing climb and descent of the world's highest peak that quickly turned into a disaster, Norgay's book is more a spiritual journey that Norgay undertakes in order to commune with the soul of his father, and to better understand his life.  I can't help but feel moved by Norgay's quest to understand his father because he just wants to connect with him on a level he never was able to while he was alive.  Tenzing never wanted his son to climb, and instead wanted him to go to school and make something more of himself, which is clear when Tenzing tells Jamling, "I climbed Everest so you wouldn't have to."  Yet, the lure of climbing like his father called to Norgay his entire life, and I respect his choice to carry on with it after his father died.  Therefore, despite a very long journey to base camp (ugh), I have enjoyed reading this book as it is enthralling in a different way than Krakauer's, and even Blum's and Herzog's stories.

Also, as I mentioned, we get a sherpa's point of view of climbing Everest through Norgay's words.  I find it very interesting how spiritual Norgay is, and his reverence for Everest's spirits.  I also have enjoyed reading about his interactions with porters and other sherpas, which are so different than that of Herzog's, Blum's, and Krakauer's.  Norgay knows how they act, like the porters trying to get an advance in pay so they could give up carrying loads half way through the trek, and he shares a culture with them.  This gave me the reader an even greater understanding of the world of mountaineering from my armchair, even when you consider that I have already read three mountaineering books.  But I wonder if anyone else feels this way.  Did Norgay's book give anyone a greater understanding of the climbing culture present on Everest?  Did his quest to understand his father's life touch anyone else?  Or was this just one more book about Everest that didn't really do much other than give the reader another account of the 1996 disaster?    

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