Monday, March 5, 2012

Everest as Consumable

The Italian Reinhold Messner, one of the most famous mountaineers in the history of mountaineering as firstly getting to the tops of the fourteen above-eight-thousand-meters mountains among other invaluable achievements, once said: "Mount Everest has degenerated into a 'fashionable' mountain."   It is widely known that nowadays the peak may be conquerable relatively safely if one has enough time and money with suitable physical strength.  Well-fixed rope, enough help from Sherpa guides, comfortably installed camp equipment, and so forth.  International managers even train 'novices' at the foot of the glaciers of the mountain.  In 2011, for instance, more than five hundreds of people, through the 'easiest' normal route (i.e. Southeast ridge), reached to the top--half of them were Sherpas.  To the eyes of such essentialist like Messner--who has written more than thirty books on mountaineering with his particular philosophical approach to the topic--the mountain is becoming a spot of "mass tourism."

'Village' on the North Col (23,000ft, 7,000m) of Mt. Everest

I do agree with him that the mountain now can be climbable much easier than appear to be and, therefore, it may not be what the authentic adventurer would be aiming.  I do not agree with him, however, of implying that the experience of the mass tourists--the "novices"--must be less valuable, or a sort of insignificant job that might be consumable and therefore no important meaning in whatever senses be embedded in.  

People say: "McDonaldization" of climbing.  They criticize such a capitalist tendency, denigrate manufactured experiences.  Mountaineering, not only to the authentic explorers but also to all of the "experience seekers" of this modern world, is, as a "really" dangerous sport, to be a sacred activity being left on the level of highest plane that might be closer to the cleanest god's realm.

I am not arguing for such an experience of tourists that should also be treated equally as valuable.

I am arguing that, in the sense of the climbing itself, whether it is really dangerous or not, always involve a certain degree of personal as well as communal commitment, incomparable significance should arise from all of the phases of various styles of the physical activity.  The significance is of course various to each practitioner.  An authentic mountaineer would claim "alpine-style" climbing may better produce meaningful achievement.  On the other hand, however, such a legitimacy of the style is not inherent to the experience but a production of the experience, conceivable as a result of it.  Therefore, we are not able to be assured of what signification will follow from the experience in question.  We only imagine, based on our habitual knowledge, the meanings which will generate from us, from within.


  1. That is great i wish that every great hiker get flights for pakistan to attempt top peaks of Pakistan which are unique in all over the world.

  2. This is awesome tour i wish i could join you. Some of my friends are planning adventurous tour but due to booking of cheap umrah packages i can't join them so i would like to plan for next year hopefuly.