I have been grappling with why Trevanian chose to make Hemlock so "unfeeling." It reminded me of a movie, "Hanna," that is about a girl biologically created to be a more perfect killing machine. Her creators decreased her sense of fear among other physical adjustments. When I began to read the book I predicted that Trevanian would present Hemlock's lack of "normal" feelings to be significant benefit to his climbing. So far it seems to have only benefited his superior sanctioning ability. While Hemlock is portrayed as a currently better climber than Ben, there is no suggestion that either of their ways of climbing was better than the other in their prime, only that they were better suited to different climbs. I wonder if we will see more effects of his personality on his climbing while they are on the face of the Eiger.
We have touched on the people who are left behind when people climb. Trevanian presents it as Hemlock leaving his painting and house rather than any loved ones or people who love him. He seems to despise the people he leaves behind and the pressure they put on him to play certain roles. It's the painting and house he misses. If you don't have people who love you, is it easier to risk your life to climb?