Sunday, February 16, 2014

Commercialization of Adventure

Not being an avid climber or adventurer myself, I never thought about the impact of large expeditions repeatedly climbing a mountain like Everest.  But as I have been reading Into Thin Air, Krakauer has opened my eyes to the environmental impact repeated climbs has on Everest (and like mountains), as well as the danger of commercialization of such demanding climbs.  It makes sense that the build up of bottles of oxygen on the mountain, the waste left at the camps, and the increased traffic of climbers has caused the deterioration of big peaks like Everest over the years.  And I tend to agree with Krakauer, this is because of the increasing commercialization of big mountains.  As climbing companies like Rob Hall's became more popular, and their skills as guides became better, it has allowed relatively inexperienced climbers the chance to climb mountains like Everest by relaying on the expertise of their guides.  This means that the once small pool of experienced climbers who had the ability to climb technically demanding mountains has grown substantially, and more climbers means more of an environmental impact on the mountain.  

But, despite the environmental concerns, I think the larger point Krakauer is trying to make in Into Thin Air is how dangerous allowing inexperienced climbers up mountains like Everest is, especially with what happened to his expedition.  With more and more people with not enough climbing experience going up dangerous mountains, there is an increased danger to their safety.  They might find themselves in situations where two or three experienced climbers may know how to survive, like an avalanche for instance, but the six or seven of them with not much experience may not know what to do, increasing the chance of injury or even death.  What happened to Krakauer's group on Everest is a perfect example of this.  Therefore, I believe that he is right in criticizing what has become of climbing the big mountains like Everest.  Not only has commercialization of these climbs been an environmental concern, but also has puts inexperienced climbers in positions that they do not know how to handle or deal with if something were to go wrong.       

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