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'180° South: Conquerors of the Useless'

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'180° South: Conquerors of the Useless'
March 01, 2010 09:16PM
(book review)

FEBRUARY 18, 2010, 6:54 P.M. ET
'180° South: Conquerors of the Useless'
By Yvon Chouinard, Chris Malloy and Jeff Johnson
Edited excerpts from "180° South: Conquerors of the Useless"
Chris Malloy and Jeff Johnson, inspired by an obscure 1960s era film about a journey from Ventura, California, to Chilean Patagonia called Mountain of Storms, embarked on a journey of their own – and made a film about it.

... It's all about the process, not the goal.
Take fly fishing: If you want to catch fish, use a worm. You'll catch so many fish you won't believe it. But fishing with flies takes the same approach as in Zen archery. You don't try to hit the bull's-eye. You concentrate instead on every step you need to take to fire the arrow. It's the same with climbing. If you're climbing a wall in Yosemite, the important thing is how you climb the wall, how you get to the top, because there's no point to just getting to the top.
The opposite of the Zen approach is climbing Everest if you're a plastic surgeon or a CEO. You pay eighty thousand dollars and have sherpas put all the ladders in place and eight thousand feet of fixed rope, and you don't even have to carry a pack. There's a sherpa in front and he's got a three-foot rope on you, and there's a sherpa in back and he's carrying extra oxygen bottles. You get to a camp and you don't even have to lay out your sleeping bag. It's already laid out with a little mint on the top. Your guides have computers dialed into the daily weather report. You bulls--- yourself into thinking you climbed Everest, but you didn't climb Everest. You climbed a subdued mountain with all these ropes holding it down, and the whole point of climbing something is a spiritual/physical game. If you compromise the process, and you're an a------ when you start out, then you're an a------ when you get back: Nothing's changed.


FEBRUARY 19, 2010
The 'Fun Hog Expedition' Revisited
How two scruffy climbers in the 1960s became millionaire businessmen and world-class conservationists
By Michael J. Ybarra

In 1968 Doug Tompkins pitched an idea for a road trip to his friend Yvon Chouinard that wasn't particularly well-timed. Mr. Tompkins and his wife had just had a daughter, and Mr. Chouinard had just been married. But Mr. Tompkins proposed driving from Ventura, Calif., all the way to the tip of South America, where they would climb Fitz Roy, a daunting mountain that had been climbed only twice before. So of course the mountaineering-obsessed men hit the road, in a van with a couple of other friends, on a months-long journey that would become famous in the annals of both mountain-climbing and the outdoors business.

avatar Re: '180° South: Conquerors of the Useless'
March 02, 2010 11:53AM
Mountains like Everest and K2 have way too many unprofessional climbers on them simply because there are a multitude of tour companies willng to separate them from their money. Many of these folks are not fit to be at those altitudes, let alone have any appreciation for the physical effort required or actual dangers present. When there are so many people on these mountains during the narrow seasonal window, that's when you get people descending from the summit blocked by people ascending on a ridge only wide enough for one-way travel. Inevitably, somebody is stuck breathing thin air too long and losing brain cells in the process. Then the weather closes in and everybody is in deep trouble. It's insane.
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