On Seeking Out The Unpleasant For The Subsequent Relief

This past Saturday afternoon, after I had completed my abortive attempt to scale Mt. Washington, I returned–exhausted, bedraggled, and freezing–to my motel room in North Conway, NH. It was about 3:30 PM; I had stopped off on the way to pick up a cup of coffee (and had my car get stuck in the parkingContinue reading “On Seeking Out The Unpleasant For The Subsequent Relief”

Notes On Winter Climbing In The White Mountains – II

Yesterday, I made note here of my activities on the first of a pair of days of guided climbing in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Our plan for the second day was to try to summit Mt. Washington, a beastly business in the winter. I had hoped a) to become proficient enough in climbing to attemptContinue reading “Notes On Winter Climbing In The White Mountains – II”

Notes On Winter Climbing In The White Mountains – I

Last week, I drove up to New Hampshire–more specifically, to the White Mountains in New Hampshire–to do a little guided climbing. (With the endlessly patient and tremendously knowledgeable¬†Nick Aiello-Popeo of Synnott Mountain Guides in Intervale, NH.) Climbing in the winter is supposed to be hard work; this past weekend turned out to be just that.Continue reading “Notes On Winter Climbing In The White Mountains – I”

No One ‘Conquers’ An Eight-Thousander

Despite the dozens, if not hundreds, of mountaineering tales that talk about the ‘conquest’ of mountains, especially the fourteen eight-thousanders that are the world’s tallest mountains, no one ‘conquers’ them. Not the mountaineers who climbed them first, who ‘deflowered’ their ‘virginity,’; not the ones who climb them by new routes, each selected to be harderContinue reading “No One ‘Conquers’ An Eight-Thousander”

Of Annapurnas and Men: Maurice Herzog’s Epic Lives On

Just over sixty-four years ago, on June 3rd 1950, a pair of French mountaineers, Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal, stood on the summit of Annapurna, the world’s tenth highest peak. It was the first time mountaineers had succeeded in climbing a peak above eight thousand meters altitude. The French pair’s trials and travails were notContinue reading “Of Annapurnas and Men: Maurice Herzog’s Epic Lives On”

Deadly Success: ‘The Summit’ On the 2008 K2 Disaster

Anatomies of disasters always provoke the most detailed of analyses for understandable reasons: as the hoary proverb has it, success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. Disclaimers of paternity are thus to be expected when ugly offspring makes their appearance. In Nick Ryan‘s The Summit, the story of the deadliest day–1 August 2008–onContinue reading “Deadly Success: ‘The Summit’ On the 2008 K2 Disaster”

Prohibitionists and Their Impoverished Sense of Human Motivation

A few days ago, I wrote a post here on David Brooks’ inane ‘Weed: Been There, Done That‘ Op-Ed. Looking back on it now, what strikes me as most galling about Brooks’ post and other pro-prohibition sentiments that I’ve heard expressed in the past is the shriveled, impoverished, reductive view they have of human character.Continue reading “Prohibitionists and Their Impoverished Sense of Human Motivation”

From a Safe Distance: Reading about Mountaineering

Reading books about mountaineering–written by mountaineers–reminds me of reading books about physics written by physicists. In both cases, I’ve flirted–ever so lightly–with the subject matter: in the case of physics, I’ve done high-school physics, taken a graduate level class in mathematical methods for physicists, taught myself the basic mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics, read philosophyContinue reading “From a Safe Distance: Reading about Mountaineering”

Brawling at Twenty Thousand Feet: The Everest Punchup

The high-altitude slopes of the world’s highest mountain–Mt. Everest–might seem like a strange place to indulge in fisticuffs but that’s precisely what happened on April 27: It takes a lot to rattle Swiss climber¬†Ueli Steck….on April 27, while attempting to climb Mount Everest, it wasn’t the mountain that nearly killed him but a mob ofContinue reading “Brawling at Twenty Thousand Feet: The Everest Punchup”

The Mountaineering Make-Over

A few days ago, as my nephew, an aspiring mountaineer who has been on expeditions to Kamet, Trishul, (both in the Garhwal Himalayas) and Stok Kangri (a trekking peak in Ladakh), chatted with me on Facebook, he said (roughly), You know, for me it’s no longer that away from the hustle-bustle, out to find myselfContinue reading “The Mountaineering Make-Over”