MARK TURIN The peak of selfishness




Monday November 1, 1999

© Mark Turin

Much as I am sorry to hear of the death of Dr Ginette Harrison (Peak claims climbing star, October 28), it never ceases to amaze me how one-sided and tedious reports are of the dramatic deaths of mountain climbers.

I have spent a large part of the last eight years living in Nepal, two of which were spent in the villages of Tukche and Kalopani, at the foot of the great Dhaulagiri mountain where Dr Harrison died. Every few months a well-equipped expedition would pass through and then a week or two later would come back again, either in triumph or in mourning.

Mountain climbing must be one of the most dangerous pastimes in existence - those who climb know the risks. Why then all the attention for an essentially selfish and dangerous sport? The article focuses on Harrison's achievements and character, but what of her nameless Nepali climbing partner? He is referred to only in passing, and then as a "sherpa". When will we get more balanced reporting, with the names of the many "sherpas" who participate in expeditions alongside the usual hagiography of the foreign group members?