The Mountaineering Culture Studies Group is made possible through the Rackham Interdisciplinary Workshop programme at the Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan. It is also generously supported as a Special Interest Group by the university's Department of English.


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2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014

 

 

EVENTS IN 2011

27 October 2011 | 4211 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
'A History of Fascination' & Meaning of Mountaineering: A Discussion of Robert Macfarlane's Mountains of the Mind
(read more)

17 November 2011 | 4211 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
The First 8000-er: A Discussion of Maurice Herzog's Annapurna
(read more)

8 December 2011 | 4211 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
High Altitude Himalayan Mountaineering, Then & Now: A Discussion of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
(read more)

EVENTS IN 2012

12 January 2012 | 4211 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
The Lens in High Places: Photography and Mountaineering | Amrita Dhar
Hosted in conjunction with the Visual Culture Workshop, UM
(read more)

27 January 2012 | 3222 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
Mapping the Himalayan Imaginary: A Postcolonial Perspective | Jyotsna Singh
Hosted in conjunction with the Center for South Asian Studies, UM
(read more)

8 February 2012 | 3222 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
Teaching in High or Wild Places | Carolyn Dekker | Julia Hansen | Aric Knuth
Hosted in conjunction with the English Department Writing Program, UM
(read more)

8 March 2012 | 3154 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
A New History of Himalayan Mountaineering | Maurice Isserman | Stewart Weaver
(read more)

29 March 2012 | Hatcher 100 | 4 p.m.
Siachen Glacier: The Battle of Roses | Harish Kapadia
Hosted in conjunction with the Center for South Asian Studies, UM
(read more)

20 September 2012 | 4207 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Call for Interest, Welcome, and Planning Meeting for 2012-2013
(read more)

18 October 2012 | 4207 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
The Compressor Route Controversy: Roundtable Discussion
(read more)

8 November 2012 | 3222 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Enduring Patagonia and Other Mountaineering Matters | Gregory Crouch
Hosted in conjunction with MLaw Rocks!, UM
(read more)

29 November 2012 | 3154 Angell Hall | 6 p.m.
Social Climbing in the UK: A Brief History | Paddy Scannell
(read more)

EVENTS IN 2013

9 January 2013 | 4211 Angell Hall | 6 p.m.
Film Night
(read more)

31 January 2013 | 3154 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Conservation in the Mountain Environment | Richard Tucker
(read more)

21 February 2013 | 3154 Angell Hall | 6 p.m.
Everest: A Sherpa Perspective | Pem Dorjee Sherpa
(read more)

14 March 2013 | 3154 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Saser Kangri II: The First Ascent | Mark Richey
(read more)

16 April 2013 | 3222 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Traditional Methods to Technical Alpine Climbing | Mark Wilford
(read more)

25 April 2013 | 3241 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
Tea with Gary Snyder
(read more)

7 November 2013 | 0220 South Hall | 6 p.m.
Five Decades and Climbing | Jim Donini

Hosted in conjunction with MLaw Rocks!, UM
(read more)

6 December 2013 | 0220 South Hall | 6:30 p.m.
Promoting Climbing-related Tourism in Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains | Bo White
Hosted in conjunction with MLaw Rocks!, UM
(read more)

EVENTS IN 2014

18 March 2014 | 3154 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Til-Mannered: The Quest for the Tilman Spirit | Anindya Mukherjee
(read more)

31 March 2014 | 3512 Haven Hall | 6 p.m.
Mountaineering: Hobby to Profession | Mat Erpelding
(read more)

 

See below for more information. Use the links provided above at the bottom of each entry to navigate.

 

 


27 October 2011 | 4211 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
'A History of Fascination' & Meaning of Mountaineering: A Discussion of Robert Macfarlane's Mountains of the Mind

Discussion of the ‘history of a fascination’ and what mountaineering means in a present-day context, around Robert Macfarlane’s book Mountains of the Mind (London: Granta, 2003).

 

17 November 2011 | 4211 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
The First 8000-er: A Discussion of Maurice Herzog's Annapurna

A discussion of Maurice Herzog’s Annapurna, translated into English by Nea Morin and Janet Adam Smith (London: Jonathan Cape, 1952), which documents the expedition that first reached the summit of an 8000-er. Other accounts — indeed, counterfoils to Herzog’s account — may be found in the works of Lionel Terray (Conquistadors of the Useless: From the Alps to Annapurna), Louis Lachenal (Carnets du vertige; probably, though correction is welcome, not yet translated into English), and Gaston Rebuffat (Starlight and Storm). David Roberts’s 2000 account, True Summit: What Really Happened on the Legendary Summit of Annapurna, may also be worth perusal.
A few decades down the line and in accommodation of the voice of a remarkable woman climber and writer, we may also wish to look at Arlene Blum’s Annapurna: A Woman’s Place.


8 December 2011 | 4211 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
High Altitude Himalayan Mountaineering, Then & Now: A Discussion of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

A discussion of the stakes and practices of high-altitude Himalayan mountaineering at the turn of the millennium and today, around Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster (London: Macmillan, 1997). We may, alongside Krakauer, want also to read Anatoli Boukreev (The Climb), Beck Weathers (Left for Dead). And/or watch the David Breashears-directed IMAX film Everest (1998).

 

12 January 2012 | 4211 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
The Lens in High Places: Photography and Mountaineering | Amrita Dhar
Hosted in conjunction with the Visual Culture Workshop, UM

‘My chief question here will have to do with the matter and manner of representation of an extreme pursuit. Why has photography been so deeply intermeshed with mountaineering since its youngest days, particularly in the highest ranges? Its curious ‘enabling’ power notwithstanding, does it continue to be used in the same way as it was about a hundred years back, or can we trace a substantive difference in its present-day affordances? To start with an example that many will be familiar with, my point of departure will be the early twentieth-century attempts on Everest. I shall strand my way through those first concatenations of climbing and camerawork to the climactic moment in 1953 when the summit of Everest was reached, and to the present day when photographs of comparable ventures appear not so much in the periodicals of the Royal Geographical Society as on the North Face blog. I should explore issues not only of commerce and journalism, but also the subject positions betrayed by the photographer and climber (two roles until very recently most intimately conflated). I shall anchor my exploration around Eric Shipton, Frank Smythe, Conrad Anker, and Jimmy Chin.’

 

27 January 2012 | 3222 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
Mapping the Himalayan Imaginary: A Postcolonial Perspective | Jyotsna Singh
Hosted in conjunction with the Center for South Asian Studies, UM

'The many hill towns, cemeteries, churches, and mountaineering trails dotting the Himalayan landscape in India from East to West tell the story of British settlement during its empire. My paper will combine a history of some of these sites--Simla, Kasauli, Dharamshala--with traces of my own production as a postcolonial subject. How I have lived and imagined the Himalayas is shaped by echoes of empire and capitalist intrusions of contemporary India. Thus the real and imagined Himalayas produce a rich history.'

Jyotsna Singh researches and teaches early modern literature and culture, colonial history, travel writing, postcolonial theory, and gender and race studies, often exploring the intersections of these different fields. She is Professor of English at Michigan State University.

 

8 February 2012 | 3222 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
Teaching in High or Wild Places | Carolyn Dekker | Julia Hansen | Aric Knuth
Hosted in conjunction with the English Department Writing Program, UM

‘Up a mountain. Out at sea. Experiential learning programs including Semester at Sea and Michigan’s own Camp Davis and New England Literature Program offer humanities instruction ?in the field? — a phrase we more readily associate with the sciences. How is English taught under field conditions, and what can these experiences bring back to our teaching here at the University?’

 

8 March 2012 | 3154 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
A New History of Himalayan Mountaineering | Maurice Isserman | Stewart Weaver

This meeting will use as launching ground the Isserman and Stewart authored Fallen Giants:  A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes (Yale University Press, 2008).

‘Over the past few years a “new history of Himalayan mountaineering” has begun to appear, what Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver have called “a history of mountaineering from the bottom up,” that seeks to root  accounts of mountain ascents in the cultural, social, political, and intellectual worlds shaping the  mountaineers themselves before they ever reach their summits.  Recent examples include Wade Davis, Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest (2011), Bernadette McDonald, Freedom Climbers (2011), which is a history of Polish Himalayan climbers in the 1970s and 1980s, and Isserman and Weaver’s prize-winning Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes (2008). Isserman and Weaver will discuss the origin and evolution of their own work, and where they see the new history of mountaineering heading in coming years.’

Maurice Isserman, the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of American History at Hamilton College, came to Hamilton in 1990 as an assistant professor of history and director of the American Studies program. A graduate of Reed College (B.A., 1973) and the University of Rochester (M.A., 1975, Ph.D., 1979), he had previously taught at Oberlin, Smith, Mount Holyoke and Williams colleges. Since coming to Hamilton he has been the recipient of a Mellon Fellowship at Harvard University and held the position of Fulbright Distinguished Professor at Moscow State University in Russia. His previous books include Which Side Were You On? The American Communist Party During the Second World War (1982), If I Had a Hammer: The Death of the Old Left and the Birth of the New Left (1987), California Red: The Life of Dorothy Healey (co-authored with Dorothy Healey, 1990), The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington (2000), America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s (co-authored with Michael Kazin, 2000, and now in its fourth revised edition), and Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes (co-authored with Stewart Weaver, 2008, winner of the 2008 Banff book festival prize for best mountaineering history and the 2008 National Outdoor Book Award prize for best history). His regular history courses at Hamilton range from the Civil War to the 1960s, and he also teaches a course on Adventure Writing.

Stewart Weaver is a Professor of British history and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. He earned his B.A. in History and English at Duke University in 1979 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History at Stanford University in 1982 and 1985. His books include The Politics of Popular Radicalism, 1832-1847 (Oxford University Press, 1987), The Hammonds: A Marriage in History (Stanford University Press, 1997), and, most recently (in collaboration with Maurice Isserman) Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes (Yale University Press, 2008). He teaches widely in modern British, British Colonial, Environmental, and Modern European history.

 

29 March 2012 | Hatcher 100 | 4 p.m.
Siachen Glacier: The Battle of Roses | Harish Kapadia
Hosted in conjunction with the Center for South Asian Studies, UM

This meeting will use as starting point Kapadia’s Siachen Glacier: The Battle of Roses (Rupa, 2010).

‘Harish Kapadia has visited the Siachen Glacier, the scene of military conflict between India and Pakistan since 1984, three times. His was one of the few civilian parties to be allowed on this glacier under control of the army. He traversed the entire length of the glacier and reached Indira Col and Turkestan La. The glacier contains some of the high unclimbed peaks in the Karakoram. He is working to promote the Siachen Peace Park for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict. His presentation at the MCSG will deal with the crucially relevant contemporary issues of environmentalism, oropolitcs, and exploration.’

Kapadia has made a unique contribution to knowledge of the Himalaya: as editor of the Himalayan Journal, one of the most authoritative and comprehensive records of exploratory activity in the Himalaya; through his numerous books; and as leader and organiser of countless expeditions over the years. His books and works on the Himalaya are erudite and practical, skilfully combining historical, geographical and practical guidance to increase our understanding of the region. As expedition leader, he has initiated a series of joint expeditions with climbers from the United Kingdom, France, Japan, and the United States to explore and climb throughout the Indian Himalaya. He has also been a tireless campaigner for the resolution of the Kashmir conflict through the Siachen Peace Park initiative in the Karakoram region. He is Honorary Member of several leading Alpine Clubs of the world: in London, Japan, American and Poland. He has received the Patron?s Medal of the Royal Geographic Society (UK), the King Albert Gold Medal (Switzerland), the Joss Lynam Medal (Ireland), and has been honoured by the President of India with the Tensing Norgay National Adventure Award for Life Time Achievement.

 

20 September 2012 | 4207 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Call for Interest, Welcome, and Planning Meeting for 2012-2013

You are invited to come see what the MCSG is and does, partake of good food and great conversation, meet other people thinking mountains, make suggestions about what you would like the MCSG to do this year, find out about some of the plans already underway (book readings, chapter/article workshops, discussion panels, visits by external speakers approached or confirmed), and find out what use the MCSG can be to your own creative, academic, or exploratory work. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

 

18 October 2012 | 4207 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
The Compressor Route Controversy: Roundtable Discussion

The following articles (list compiled by Bo White) should give us a launching pad into the discussion:

Overview of the compressor route controversy:

http://adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com/2012/01/29/patagonias-cerro-torre-climbing-controversy-maestri-unbolted/http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/16/climbers-italians-bolt-ladder-cerro-torre

The Origins of the Controversy:

http://www.climbing.com/route/cerro-torre-the-lie-and-the-desecration/

Statement from the Climbers involved:

http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web12w/newswire-kruk-kennedy-statementhttp://www.alpinist.com/doc/web10x/newswire-lama-speaks-compressor

Perspectives from the heavy-weights:

http://www.planetmountain.com/english/News/shownews1.lasso?l=2&keyid=39298http://www.planetmountain.com/english/News/shownews1.lasso?l=2&keyid=39140http://www.thecleanestline.com/2012/02/cerro-torre-deviations-from-reason.htmlhttp://www.colinhaley.blogspot.com/2012/02/removal-of-cesare-maestris-bolt-ladders.html
http://www.thecleanestline.com/2012/02/a-word-.html

 

8 November 2012 | 3222 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Enduring Patagonia and Other Mountaineering Matters | Gregory Crouch
Hosted in conjunction with MLaw Rocks!, UM

Gregory Crouch  graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he studied military history. He completed US Army Airborne and Ranger schools and led an infantry platoon in Panama, earning the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He left the Army to pursue other interests, most notably in mountaineering. He developed an obsession with the storm-swept peaks of Patagonia, and has made seven expeditions there. Along the way he became a writer, and his work has appeared in The AtlanticNational GeographicOutsideAmerican HistoryClimbing, and Rock & Ice. His book Enduring Patagonia (New York: Random House, 2001) was chosen for the Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” program. China’s Wings: War, Intrigue, Romance, and Adventure in the Middle Kingdom During the Golden Age of Flight was published by Bantam in March 2012.

Beginning with a brief slideshow to acquaint us with the wild, windswept and wonderful landscape that is the subject of his lecture, Crouch will talk about the personal experience and inspiration behind the writing of Enduring Patagonia. This will be his point of departure for an exploration of the ways in which the experience of mountaineering, and the literature that uses it for a subject, fit into, generate, influence, and profoundly impact each other.

 

29 November 2012 | 3154 Angell Hall | 6 p.m.
Social Climbing in the UK: A Brief History | Paddy Scannell

‘The present day sport of climbing can trace its origins in the UK back to Alpine mountaineering in the late 19th century. It has developed in relation to three different kinds of terrain, each involving a different activity: mountains and mountaineering in snow and ice; British hills and rock climbing; British outcrops and short hard technical climbing. These different terrains have different locations, which partly determined the social formation of the sport that began as an upper (middle) class activity (19thcentury) and subsequently 'trickled down' the social ladder to the bourgeoisie (early 20th century) and the working class (mid 20th century). I will offer an informal sketch of the historical formation of today's global sport as it developed in one particular part of the world.’

Gerald (Paddy) Scannell is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. Before coming to the US, he worked for many years at the University of Westminster (London) where he and his colleagues established, in 1975, the first undergraduate degree program in Media Studies in the UK. He is a founding editor of Media, Culture and Society, which began publication in 1979 and is now issued six times yearly. He is the author, with David Cardiff, of A Social History of British Broadcasting, 1922-1939. He is now working on a trilogy on media and communication. Meanwhile, he continues to think about the way in which class operates within an activity he used to avidly partake in: climbing.

 

9 January 2013 | 4211 Angell Hall | 6 p.m.
Film Night

Our first meeting for the Winter 2013 term will be a chance for MCSG members to exchange news and stories over pizza and films. Several of us made it to the visually marvellous Reel Rock 7 in November 2012, and discovered that we had not watched the films from Reel Rock 2011 but would like to. Here they are! Bring friends and anecdotes and learn about what the rest of term has in store.

 

31 January 2013 | 3154 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Conservation in the Mountain Environment | Richard Tucker

Richard Tucker will discuss aspects of the cultural and economic settings of mountaineering in northwestern India.  Between 1993 and 2008 he lived part of each year above the Tibetan exile home, Dharamsala, in India's state of Himachal Pradesh, doing research on environmental change in the region and working with local environmental action groups.  Himachal, the region southeast of Kashmir and Ladakh, has high Himalayan ranges rolling to the borderlands of western Tibet, and into the headwaters region of the Indus and Ganges rivers.  Though a little lower than the highest ranges of Nepal or the Hindu Kush, many of these peaks are very remote; some are even now unclimbed.  The region draws climbers, as well as many high-country trekkers, but its infrastructure and facilities for them are less intensive than in Nepal.  Yet for some of the hill towns, trekkers and climbers have become crucial to local economies and central to their expanding consumer-cosmopolitan cultures.  The evening's presentation will include photographs of the region's landscapes and people, as well as its accelerating environmental stresses.

Richard Tucker teaches at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. He teaches courses on world environmental history and the world history of environmental impacts of wars and militarization. He also continues to do research and writing on the history of American capital investment in tropical and subtropical natural resources. As an avid traveller, trekker, and erstwhile homeowner in Dharamkot at the foothills of the Dhauladhar mountains in the Indian Himalaya, his approach to thinking about sustainability in fragile mountain environments is necessarily both engaged and pragmatic.

 

21 February 2013 | 3154 Angell Hall | 6 p.m.
Everest: A Sherpa Perspective | Pem Dorjee Sherpa

Pem Dorjee Sherpa was born in 1982 and grew up in a small, remote village called Chyangba south of Everest. He started mountaineering when he was 19. Pem has climbed Everest twice, the second time with his girlfriend Moni Mulepati. On the summit, they followed through on a plan they had heretofore kept secret from everyone, and exchanged their wedding vows at 29,035 feet. They also hoisted the flag of Rotary International in honour of its centennial year. Pem came to the US in 2008, and since then has hiked the 3,100-mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail between Mexico and Canada. He now lives with his wife Moni and daughter Pelzom in Michigan, an owner of a local fair-trade store many of us have walked by, perhaps explored: The Himalayan Bazaar on Main Street in Ann Arbor.

In his presentation and slideshow, Pem Dorjee Sherpa will address the peculiar history of the interrelatedness of the ethnic group of the Sherpas and the mountain most of us know by the name of Everest. From an inalienably native perspective, he will consider the Sherpa community's role in the development of mountaineering in the Nepal Everest region, Everest's peculiar claims and demands on the community's population and culture, and the singular inheritance, both of change and continuity, that the Sherpa people carry as a result of this connection.

 

14 March 2013 | 3154 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Saser Kangri II: The First Ascent | Mark Richey

In the summer of 2011 Mark Richey led a small team of six climbers into a remote region of India’s Eastern Karakoram to attempt the first ascent of what was then the second highest unclimbed mountain in the world, Saser Kangri II, at 7518 metres.  It was important to reach the summit, but just as important was reaching it in pure alpine style: with no fixed ropes, no fixed camps, and no support on the climb.  In addition to the ascent of SKII, the team explored on skis the glaciers and mountains surrounding SKII and made four other significant first ascents of 6000-metre peaks. The story of the expedition speaks to several fascinating issues and questions facing climbers today. The history of SKII—and why a mountain so high remained unclimbed for so long—is both fascinating and complex.  SKII lies very near the Indian LOC (Line of Control), a region in military conflict for nearly four decades.  What is involved in gaining a permit to enter such a geopolitical or ‘manmade’ wilderness, and what are the logistics of climbing there? Next, as both Mark and his partner Steve Swenson are in their mid to late fifties, it is a question worth asking until what age it is reasonable—and safe—to attempt this style of demanding high-altitude climbing. Finally, while both Mark and Steve have made dozens of expeditions to the Himalaya and Karakoram, this one was a little different for them in including both men and women.  What are the actual and potential dynamics, challenges, and advantages to a multi-gender, multi-generation Himalayan expedition today? These questions and others will be explored in Mark’s lecture: ‘Saser Kangri II: The First Ascent’. In conclusion, Mark will screen a short film about the SKII climb, The Old Breed.

Mark Richey began climbing in 1973 at age 15 in the Quincy Quarries of Massachusetts. Adept at all forms of climbing, he has made over 25 expeditions to the greater ranges throughout the world with a focus towards technical alpine style ascents and exploratory climbing. The highlights include the Nose on El Cap at age 16, the North Face of the Eiger in 12 hours in 1981, the first ascent of the East face of Cayesh in 1984, Cerro Torre in 1987, Everest in 1991, the East ridge of Shivling in 1996, an alpine style ascent of Latok II in 2006, and most recently, the first ascent of Saser Kangri II in the Indian Karakoram. Mark lives in Newbury, Massachusetts with his wife Teresa.  Together they own and operate an Architectural woodworking business they founded in 1982.


16 April 2013 | 3222 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Traditional Methods to Technical Alpine Climbing | Mark Wilford

Drawing on the experience of an alpine career that has spanned four decades, climber Mark Wilford will address aspects of the curious temperament that such climbing requires. With the example of his solo ascent of the Eiger North Face in Switzerland, he will discuss his focus on routes that employ technical rock and ice climbing. Talking about a new route on Nameless Tower (aka Trango Tower) in the Pakistan Karakoram, he will bring up the peculiar commitment and persistence such essays require—sometimes in the form of retreating and coming back another day. Finally, with a colourful account of the famously fantastic first ascent (and descent) of Yamandaka in the Indian Karakoram, he will elaborate on the unexpected kinds of resourcefulness such terrain asks.

Mark Wilford is a native of Colorado. Over the last forty years, he has embraced all genres of climbing from ice, rock, and big wall, to exploratory expeditions and bouldering. He has climbed on all seven continents, and scores of countries.  Notable ascents have been the first American solo of the Eiger North Face and a solo of the Diamond on Long's Peak in winter, in addition to new routes in Alaska, India, Pakistan, Greenland, and Ethiopia, among others. He has retained a focus on technical climbing but employs a staunchly traditional style within it.


25 April 2013 | 3241 Angell Hall | 4 p.m.
Tea with Gary Snyder

Poet and environmentalist Gary Snyder has published eighteen books and has been translated into more than twenty languages. He has also worked as a seaman, logger, trail crew member, and forest lookout. He has been the subject of innumerable essays, five critical books and countless international interviews. His work and thinking have been featured in video specials on the BBC and PBS. His honours and awards include the the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1975), The Bollingen Prize for Poetry (1997), and the Wallace Stevens Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry (2012), among many others.

At tea, questions on Gary Snyder's work are welcome, as is discussion on some of the things that many of us at the MCSG hold dear: the aesthetic uses of the backcountry, sustainability of fragile mountain environments, and the intellectual investment and recreation the high-altitude landscape asks and offers.

 

7 November 2013 | 0220 South Hall | 6 p.m.
Five Decades and Climbing | Jim Donini

Hosted in conjunction with MLaw Rocks!, UM

Jim Donini's international alpine climbing career has spanned five decades and continues today. After a three-year stint in the US Army Special Forces, Jim discovered the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains in the mid 60’s and climbing followed soon after. An apprenticeship in Wyoming’s Grand Tetons was followed by an intensive six years in Yosemite Valley. His first ascents in Patagonia (several with Greg Crouch, another guest of the MCSG) went hand in hand with establishing new routes in the Alaska Range. A memorable 26-day odyssey on the North Ridge of Latok 1 (in the Himalaya) with Jeff Lowe, George Lowe, and Michael Kennedy in 1978 has attained almost mythical status in the mountaineering community. Jim’s career has also included trips to Mt Kenya, Peru, Antarctica, and a Venezuelan jungle tower. In 2011 he led the first Climbers’ Exchange between the American Alpine Club and the Alpine Club of Iran. With Bo White (a Michigan Law student), that same summer he climbed a new alpine rock route in Tajikistan and returned there this summer to participate in a climbing skills instruction project. In October 2013 he established an alpine rock route on a 17,000-foot peak in the Chanping Valley of Sichuan, China. Jim lives with his wife Angela in Ouray, Colorado, high up in the San Juan Range. He has just concluded three years as President of the American Alpine Club and enjoys mentoring younger climbers, who in turn testify to Jim's enormous and infectious enthusiasm.

Jim's lecture will address the different kinds of climbing his long alpine career has seen, been influenced by, and in turn influenced. Brilliantly poised to comment on how different parts of the world understand alpine climbing, he will also reflect on the ethics and attitudes that continue to mould cutting-edge mountaineering today. Relating mountaineering to other pursuits of life, Jim will also talk about two things he holds to be of critical value to his own long and illustrious career: continuing motivation, and the importance of making, and keeping, good partnerships.

 

6 December 2013 | 0220 South Hall | 6:30 p.m.
Promoting Climbing-related Tourism in Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains | Bo White
Hosted in conjunction with MLaw Rocks!, UM

Despite being the third largest mountain range in the world and home to a good number of 6000 and 7000-m peaks, the Pamirs host significantly less climbing-related tourism than do Nepal, China, India, or even Kyrgyzstan. In response to this, in 2011, Bo White and Sharaf Saidrakhmonov founded the Pamir Alpine Club (PAC) with the aim of creating a nexus of individuals focused on developing a sustainable climbing-related tourism industry in the Pamirs. Most recently, Bo spent August 2013 teamed up with the Aga Khan Foundation, the University of Central Asia, Black Diamond, and the Sentinel Outdoor Institute to provide training and climbing gear to the PAC. Bo will speak about the creation of the PAC, climbing opportunities in the Pamirs, and how to do first ascents as an average climber. Special emphasis will be placed on the unique and enabling culture of the Pamirs.

Bo White (whom we know at the MCSG) was trying to be a good graduate student in 2008-2009 and found himself conducting research for his Master's degree in Tajikistan. Little did he know he would become somewhat obsessed with this tiny landlocked country. The climber in Bo rejoiced when a Fulbright took him back to the country in 2010 for a year. As a Fulbrighter, Bo worked with a small group of eco-tourism students and aspiring mountain guides at the University of Central Asia, helping them develop mountain guide skills and strategies and generally supporting their efforts to promote eco-tourism in Tajikistan. Bo continues to return to Tajikistan to help promote climbing in the country through the Pamir Alpine Club. Currently, Bo and his wife Molly live in Ann Arbor where he studies at UM Law School and she is a Post-doc at UM Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. 

 

18 March 2014 | 3154 Angell Hall | 5 p.m.
Til-Mannered: The Quest for the Tilman Spirit | Anindya Mukherjee

Anindya Mukherjee ‘Raja’ is an Indian alpinist who works as a mountaineering guide and trek leader in the Indian Himalaya. In the last twelve years he has participated in or led more than thirty expeditions to such technical peaks as Shivling (6,543 m), Satopanth (7,075 m), Parvati Parvat (6,257 m), Kamet (7,756 m), Trisul (7,120 m), and Manirang (6,593 m). In December 2011, he made the first documented ascent of Zemu Gap (in Sikkim, India) from the South, thus making his way through one of the last unsolved problems on the eastern flanks of the Kanchenjunga range. The same year he charted a new route to enter the fabled Nanda Devi Sanctuary. In 2013, he led a lightweight semi alpine style attempt on Nanda Devi East that came very close to reaching its summit. In recognition of his inventive and exploratory style, he was awarded the first Jagdish Nanavati Award for Excellence in Mountaineering by the Himalayan Club last year.

Of all the great Himalayan explorers of the last century, the British explorer, alpine mountaineer, and writer H.W.Tilman most captivates Anindya's imagination. In 2011, this admiration came to a head and a series of inspired  journeys followed. In March 2011, Anindya retraced Tilman’s 1936 trails in reverse, through the ‘trackless vale of tears’ in North Sikkim. This journey, up the gorges of the mighty Talung River, acted as a prelude to the first documented ascent of Zemu Gap from the South in December that year. In August-September 2011, along with a few friends, he charted a new route on the formidable western walls of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary. This discovery of a new pass that can act as an alternative to the legendary Shipton-and-Tilman Rishi gorge route into the sanctum sanctorum of Nanda Devi only further encouraged Anindya. In June 2012, Tilmanesque, he rode his bicycle from Nanyuki, Kenya, to Walvis Bay, Namibia; a journey of over 4,500 kilometres and across 5 countries. And one fine morning, while approaching the border of Zambia from Malawi, he decided to return to Nanda Devi--this time to climb the mountain. What followed in May 2013 is a lightweight semi-alpine style attempt on the east summit of Nanda Devi. ‘Til-Mannered’ is an illustrated talk on this three-year pilgrimage to the Tilman spirit. 

Of course, the journey continues. On 19 March 2014, there will be a lunch and slideshow for those interested to discuss with Anindya his latest and upcoming mountaineering projects.

 

31 March 2014 | 3512 Haven Hall | 6 p.m.
Mountaineering: Hobby to Profession | Mat Erpelding

This presentation will reflect on the impacts of converting mountaineering from a hobby to a profession. Expedition guiding at high and low altitudes requires both a specific education and a vocational skill-set that is unique to the field. The transition that takes place when moving from experiencing mountaineering for its inherent values to experiencing mountaineering as a profession requires a significant change in thought and decision-making strategies. Today's discussion will take us from the guiding life on North America's biggest mountains--Mt Baker, Mt Rainier, Denali--to outdoor education at the school and college level.

Mat Erpelding is an accomplished outdoor educator, high-altitude climbing guide, and owns two small businesses--Saga Leadership Associates and Idaho Mountain Guides. He is a past president of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and in 2010 he was awarded the Wilderness Education Association’s Instructor of the Year Award for bringing innovative and substantial curriculum improvements to the organization. In 2012, Mat was elected to serve in the Idaho House of Representatives from downtown Boise where he is appointed to the Revenue & Taxation, Resources & Conservation, and Agricultural Committees.


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  Last updated March 30, 2014.