I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

A black climber on a black background, by Stevie Zulu Haston

Today climbers blast their success from the summit of Everest by expensive satellite phone. Actually delete that, they bombard you with ‘twitter’ before they have done it, or even left their homeland. Climbers rarely wait a week to announce their success, or mull over things, like grade significance, or worthiness, no it has to be now, I want my strokes now, it has to be now. The Scottish mixed climb can be dry, the climb incomplete, the boulder problem just the start or the finish done, Everest with oxygen and guides, you get the picture, or half of it at any rate. They argue on the net, surmising without proof, supposing without facts, and being snidy without sympathy. Theres a couple of mountaineers got a bashing this week, Messner for the Nanga Parbat film and Harrer for the slating without sympathy of the recently deceased Corti, about the Eiger incident. I personally have no proof on either, I have ideas, formulations of various possibilities and different possible scenarios but can offer no proof to help. I have been on Nanga Parbat the famous Himalayan giant, and know only too well how confusing the stress of being above 7000 meters, and ambition can be. I have been on the Eiger, indeed I have even had frostbite, and been rescued from the White Spider in winter and I can relate only too well to that kind of stress. My team members on the Eiger climb were attacked in the press. The pressure to go back and vindicate myself became too great and I succumbed. A few weeks later with damaged hands I went back and finished the climb. Luckily I didn’t end up dead or worse being rescued again and getting it in the neck from the press. Can you imagine the approbation and field day the sharks would have had with a 20 year old punk from London and his folly. To lose a rope companion as Messner did on Nanga Parbat when his brother Gunter died is trauma of the worst kind possibly, something that will deeply affect anyone. It deserves understanding, and no speculation from people who know nothing, it only deserves facts. Corti lost his rope mate and was then besieged by the press and various famous climber trying to accrue publicity off the back of a gallant rescue by Hellier. Corti certainly didn’t deserve the put down he got in Harrers book. But whether Harrer was a racist seems to me taking it too far without proof. Facts are key, if Harrer made a mistake in going too far with the Corti incident, guard that you don’t go too far with Harrer.

There are an incredible amount of good climbs and climbers out there today. A few prefer to stay out of the limelight or certainly keep a bushel over their special things. The reason is the peanut gallery, and the people who sell the peanuts. It is hard, nay, impossible not to be hit when the peanuts are web nuts, and the vendors are nutty web site hosts. I know of many ascents and many climbers that are stealth climbers, they are shying away from the light, and through out history it has always been like that. But the worrying slant is that before, you were judged by your peers, however jealous, racist, or nasty, and now you are maligned by a keyboard moron who hides behind a pseudonym.

Who are the black cats of today? We the grey people can only speculate, but they are there, grade nine ninjas and climbers without permits in the big mountains.