Monday, March 10, 2014
With Great Risk Comes Great Reputation
In The Man Who Ate His Boots, in criticizing Captain Ross’s attempt to find the Northwest Passage, Barrow states that “Reputation and risk are almost inseparable in the life of a naval officer” (29), a connection, which I believe strongly applies to all kinds of adventuring, including mountaineering. As is known about many famous naval officers, such as Nelson, these officers only became famous because of the risks they took. The same applies to famous mountaineers. Sir Edmond Hillary and Tenzing Norgay risked their lives multiple times to achieve the first ascent of Everest, and Simpson and Yates risked their lives to make the first ascent of their mountain in the Andes. These climbers became famous because of the high risks that were involved in successfully completing their climbs. Many more climbers climb Everest and other mountains in guided hikes, but apart from their individual claims to fame, these climbers receive no recognition for their successful climbs. The other interesting issue with the connection of reputation and risk is that the bar is continually being reset and it is becoming constantly and exponentially more difficult to achieve recognition. Constantly, in order to achieve the same degree of recognition that mountaineers were achieving years before, mountaineers today are being forced to accomplish gutsier and more difficult ascents that in the old days would never have been attempted, which is making an already risky sport even that much more dangerous.