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Life and Death on Mt. Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering

Sherry B. Ortner (Author)
Synopsis For more than a century, climbers from around the world have journeyed to test themselves on Everest's treacherous slopes enlisting the expert aid of the Sherpas who live in the area. Drawing on years of field research in the Himalaya, renowned anthropologist Sherry Ortner presents a compelling account of the evolving relationship between the mountaineers and the Sherpas, a relationship of mutual dependence and cultural conflict played out in an environment of mortal risk. Ortner explores this relationship partly through gripping accounts of expeditions--often in climbers own words--ranging from nineteenth-century forays by the British through the historic ascent of Hillary and Tenzing to the disasters described in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. She shows how climbers' behaviour toward the Sherpas has ranged from kindness to cruelty, from cultural sensitivity to derision. Ortner traces the political and economic factors that led the Sherpas to join expeditions and examines the impact of climbing on their traditional culture, religion, and identity. She examines Sherpas' attitudes toward death, the implications of the shared masculinity of Sherpas and 'sahibs', and the relationship between Sherpas and the increasing number of women climbers. Ortner also tackles debates about whether the Sherpas have been 'spoiled' by mountaineering and whether climbing itself has been spoiled by commercialism. Life and Death on the Mt. Everest is a powerful and dramatic portrayal of a century of cultural encounters in one of the world's most breathtaking regions.
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Bibliographic information

Title Life and Death on Mt. Everest: Sherpas and Himalayan Mountaineering
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2000
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0195652118
length xiii+376p., Illustrations; Maps; Fig.