Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Woman's Place

As I have been reading Annapurna: A Woman's Place, I have noticed the strikingly different tone of this book compared to Herzog's account.  First of all, Blum's narrative is filled with descriptions of the obstacles, personal conflicts, and monetary issues that her expedition faced, which I felt was mostly glossed over in Herzog's story.  Second, Blum seems less confident as a leader than Herzog did, or at least she may have been more honest in her account of her leadership than Herzog, and I find her much more relatable because of it.  Finally, I felt that Blum included more technical descriptions of the climb, such as information about making footholds, belaying, establishing safety lines, etc, which again Herzog seemed to gloss over.

I feel these differences perhaps highlight the type of narrative these two climbers/authors wanted to accomplish.  Blum's story feels more like an honest recollection of what happened on her expedition.  By reading her account of the problems she faced with the sherpas, how they all had to fundraise in order to afford the trip, and the issues she had with making decisions on behalf of the group, I was able to relate better to her and actually enjoyed reading her book more than Herzog's.  I also really enjoyed reading about the technical parts of the climb, which I felt Herzog mostly left out.  In contrast, Herzog's story feels like a classic adventure novel.  He glosses over a majority of the technical issues of climbing, planning, and how they funded the trip in order to talk about the adventure itself.  Which makes sense, because he was leading the first expedition to climb Annapurna, so he should have made it sound like a grand adventure.  However, in doing so, I felt that it made it harder to identify with Herzog, especially since I have no climbing experience myself.  Does any one else feel this way when comparing these two books?  That is, did you feel that Herzog's story is more "adventure" like than Blum's, and if so, did he lose something by doing so?

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