Vivanco - Tarzan - Chapter 09 | eBooks | Non-Fiction

Vivanco - Tarzan - Chapter 09

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Five Miles Out

Communion and Commodification among the Mountaineers

In the remote Western Karakoram mountain range is the plainly named peak of K2. It is the second-highest mountain on earth, with a reputation as a "killer" mountain. Climbing to an altitude of five miles is not a casual undertaking, but many attempt it. To reach K2 in 1953, climbers walked 150 miles through difficult terrain; today, they can fly almost to Base Camp. Today's expeditions are profoundly different from those of the 1950s, highlighting the contrast between yesterday's pilgrimage and purity versus today's commodification and status. This essay offers a perspective of mountaineering through the narratives heard and life lived with an adventurer, an experience that raises questions about why they climb and exposes differences between new and old-style mountaineering. Today, as an anthropologist, my investigation into this particular type of adventure is significantly challenged: how do I step back from the side effects of living in the shadow of the man and the mountain, escaping the emotional pull of family and self, to develop a critical eye toward the subject? In the larger sense, how do we as anthropologists escape the narcissism of minor differences, denying the similarities between ourselves and what we do and those that we identify as Other? The emotional relationship established between ethnographer and subject is multilayered, containing friendship and intimacy, aversion and hostility. It challenges our ethnographic sensibilities.

Five Miles OutCommunion and Commodification among the MountaineersDavid L.R. HoustonIn the remote Western Karakoram mountain range is the plainly named peak of K2. It is the second-highest mountain on earth, with a reputation as a "killer" mountain
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