Date of Award
College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts
In the discourse of rock climbing and mountaineering, both for climbers themselves and for the public at large, conflict remains the predominant metaphor for ascent: climbing narratives most often show heroic individuals triumphing over hostile landscapes, conquering their own fears, mastering their own bodies, besting their competitors in dangerous quests for glory. But over and over again, my travels taught me just the opposite: that moving up vertical terrain is not a combative act, but a communicative one. Human Verses Mountain is organized as a series of essays that each explore a different aspect of this central metaphor – climbing as communication – building a radical new paradigm by which to understand the ascensionist’s experience on the wall. Each chapter develops an alternative framework to supplant the predominant notion that climbing is simply an expression of Humanity’s conquest of the Wilderness; in the pieces that comprise this book, I consider climbing as a kinesthetic dialogue with the environment, as an embodied vocabulary, as a means of finding groundedness in an unstable world, as a line of poetry precisely the size of one’s body and one’s breath, and as a key to the legibility of geologic time.
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Received from author
Laidlaw, Brian, "Human Verses Mountain: Climbing, Language, and the Liveliness of Stone" (2020). Restricted Access ETDs. 63.