So you’ve heard about the fiasco that pulled Wool Stick (ahem, that’s Ueli Steck, actually), Simone Moro and Jon Griffith off of Everest this past weekend. There was a dispute that turned physical around a protocol that was unique to siege-style climbing, which was in conflict with the freedom of climbing unsupported in alpine style. There was even some early speculation that there than me have theorized that the self-centered Western climbers (in general, who are usually guided clients) haven’t treated the Sherpa and other native assistants with the respect they deserve and that the Sherpa and other assistants are now lashing out, but doesn’t seem to be panning out to be the case.
Still, Chad Kellog through Facebook called the event a “show stopper.” Melissa Arnot — who played a leading role in settling the conflict — was disturbed by the events and had to regroup in order to continue guiding. Garrett Madison, a guide that played a role managing the Sherpas for a commercial expedition, has been attempting to explain both sides of the conflict. But Simone Moro claims Madison’s story was “completely false.”
It’s sad that whatever goes on around Everest is more akin these days to the adventures from the History Channel television show Ice Road Truckers than pure climbing. In pure climbing, it’s about the style and the achievement, but the journey alone might be the achievement. In the TV show, the goal is to go from point A to point B on treacherous terrain to deliver machine parts to a remote Canadian diamond mine, return and collect your reward. The promo calls it “the dash for the cash.” When you’re dashing for reward, what’s the journey worth?
I wish all of the mountains were a place where it’s just the climber and the wild. However, on Everest, its less wild (in the natural sense) because it’s the domain of the commercial guiding companies, and you have to play by their rules, whether you’re on their “expedition” or not. At least that’s how Moro, Steck and Griffith felt, I’m sure.
It’s also a shame that the banter about Steck, Moro, Griffith and the Sherpas on Everest have dominated climbing news; this story from the Alaska Range has been more significant in terms of actual climbing: The Mooses Tooth, which rises like broad daggers on the east side of the Ruth Glacier, saw a lot of activity including the first free ascent by Scott Adamson and Pete Tapley. They also pitched a bivy that Alpinist accurately called “Dr. Suesse-esque”.
Be sure to click those links on the Mooses Tooth climb; they’re well worth your time.
On a gentler note, Natalie and I are unpacked and settling into our new place. It’s nice to see my gear in one pile in the basement. It’s been in an attic-like space, mostly out of site, for too long. My mountaineering library is on shelves and has also been reunited with the rest of my modest collection; its a disjointed grouping and is actually overflowing the bookcase.
Next to the bookcase is my desk set against a blank wall. I’ve been thinking about acquiring some special climbing-inspired art for years. While now may not be the right time financially while paying private school tuition, but I do like to browse and the blank space has been tempting me…
Climbing Art on K2
I would like to own my own mixed-media piece by Renan Ozturk or even a sharp, well-composed photograph by Alexander Buisse, but another piece holds a certain fascination, especially after writing that series on K2′s first photograph.
Do you remember when I talked about my acquaintance with Greg Glade? He was one of the references cited in Alpinist 37 about the first photo of K2 along with Jules Jacot-Guillarmod (the photographer) and Bob Schelfhout Aubertijn (the climbing historian and collector). Greg is the merchant.
Greg’s shop, Top of the World Books, is a unique bookstore located not far from Vermont’s Green Mountains in North America. It specializes in arctic and mountaineering books, both new and collectibles (drool), plus artifacts, historical reproductions, DVDs, and even art in the form of prints and posters.
Bob, the current owner of the Jacot-Guillarmod image of K2, has made a general print and a limited edition high-resolution print available for purchase through Greg’s shop, Top of the World Books.
This image, originally captured on delicate glass plates, was taken in haste. As you can see in the picture at the top of this post, there is some remnant equipment in the foreground on the path up the Baltoro Glacier. This was the first time the 1902 expedition probably saw the mountain. They stopped and gasped. Nothing in Europe compared. At that moment, the climbers, including Aleister Crowley, either were inspired or fearful — maybe a little of each — because they had come fully intending to, at minimum, climb higher than anyone else had ever climbed.
When you know that, you can see it in high res print of the first image of K2. Maybe it says something else to you.
It might not hang on the blank wall where I live now, but maybe at my next home. Maybe you’ll appreciate it even more than me; go check it out.