Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Rachel Feder


Creative writing


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.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. This work may only be accessed by members of the University of Denver community. The work is provided by permission of the author for individual research purposes only and may not be further copied or distributed. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Brian Laidlaw


Received from author

File Format




File Size

474 pgs


Creative writing