It’s always interesting to see how mainstream media depicts the world of rock climbing and mountaineering. Last night the CBS television show The Good Wife revolved around a fictional ill-fated incident on an expedition to the summit of Mount Everest. In an episode called The Death Zone, lawyers debate the circumstances that suggest one climber stole the bottled oxygen of another leaving him to die below the Hillary Step.
In a libel suite against a book written by the brother of the dead climber the alleged oxygen thief -one of those wealthy mountaineers who can afford a lawyer -justifies his actions, claiming a legal precedent. That’s what happens on an expedition.
“He froze to death and you left him, I left him, everybody left him. Why? Because we would have died carrying him down,” he said. “It is the law of the death zone. We all know we can’t be carried out.”
That’s not a law I’m familiar with. Certainly people die climbing Everest and other high mountains around the world every year. But as far as I know few perish because those around them steel vital pieces of equipment or refuse to execute a rescue. The mountaineers and rock climbers I have had the pleasure to know are both kind and courageous. And most value the lives and safety of others above all else.
As it turns out, on this same night CBS aired an interview with climber Alex Honnold on the program 60 Minutes. The 13-mintue segment profiles this leading free-soloist who ascends sheer rock walls thousands of feet high without a rope. In a very balanced and objective news piece reporter Lara Logan tells Alex’s story without relegating his accomplishments to realm of the insane. Yes indeed there are inherent risks in what he does, but through skill, training and sound judgment Alex mitigates those risks combining his talent and passion for climbing to achieve amazing feats.
It’s that kind of rational thinking that makes successful climbs possible. Athletes Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk sponsored by The North Face made it to the top of Mount Meru in Tanzania over the weekend. This was their second attempt of the 14,980-foot peak after coming within 100 yards of the summit in 2008. Rather than risking death three years ago the team opted to retreat and return home safely to climb another day. Typical of most modern mountaineers Conrad, Jimmy and Renan would never jeopardize their safety or their lives to achieve a summit.
I believe mountaineering is a metaphor of life, not an end in itself. Requiring intense concentration and presence of mind in the moment climbing is a pure illustration of the idea that it is the journey not the destination that truly matters most. And it seems this week several other new adventure media projects aim to demonstrate value that climbing can lend to life. Here’s the latest update of their trip: http://www.neverstopexploring.com/blog/2011/09/posted-on-behalf-of-chris-figenshau-tapovan-base-camp-manager-september-28th-2011-9am-gazing-up-from-tapovan-base-camp.html
All. I. Can
A new film from Sherpas Cinema brings together some pretty amazing motion pictures, music and athletic performance to share the world of snow sports. All. I. Can opens this month to a world tour that aspires to build enthusiasm for the coming ski season as well as “channel the energy borne from our passions towards green, sustainable and forward thinking. The film strives to unite global mountain culture and bind us together as the leaders of a revolution,” write the filmmakers on their web site. “We must be inspired to do all we can for the environment, and we must learn how to take that first tiny step in the right direction.”
Just selected as a short in the Banff Mountain Film Festival coming up next month a new movie from Bill Donvan pokes fun at action sports fanatics eager to catch themselves on camera. Those suffering from Technology Induced Braggart Disorder or TIBD will find relief at the Narsicamé Institute for Healing. The rest of us will get a kick out of this fun faux-info-mercial.
All That Glitters
A new book from writer and climber Margot Talbot shows us the healing power of climbing. In All That Glitters: A Climber’s Journey through Addiction and Depression the author shares her personal story of how a relationship with nature turned her life around.
Adventure writer Bernadette McDonald offers up an amazing true story of triumph in mountaineering. Her new book Freedom Climbers chronicles the lives of Polish alpinists who pulled themselves up through the devastating hardships of World War II and the demoralizing occupation of the Soviet Union to become the top ascenders of the highest peaks on the planet.
The Joy Trip Project Adventure Media Review is made possible with the support of sponsor Patagonia.
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