While reading A Woman’s Place, I couldn’t help but compare Blum’s narrative to Herzog’s account of Annapurna almost 30 years earlier. Under Herzog’s leadership, the expedition ‘conquers’ Annapurna as if they were on a military siege. Herzog and his team were climbing on behalf of all of France and his description of the trip is short and to the point. Herzog’s depiction of his team are focused on specific mountaineering skills that they brought to the table.
On the other hand, Blum’s account of Annapurna stresses each individual’s strength and weakness (physically and mentally) and focuses on the team component of mountaineering. She emphasizes the importance of discussion and group spirit on an expedition of this scale – “the higher we go, the more sensitive we become to our own feelings and the less sensitive to other people’s” . Blum’s discussions of the team dynamic, inclusion of member’s journal entries, and emphasis on emotions make the expedition team more personable.
In addition, Blum’s role as a leader differs from Herzog’s – the other members want to contribute to decision-making but at the same time Blum must remain a strong decisive leader to ensure the safety of her team. However, at the end of the day Blum realizes that regardless of what she wants her team to do, when it comes to life or death risks “they had to make this decision for themselves” .