Archive for Everest

a journal of the plague year³ [beginning of the end?]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2022 by xi'an

Made my first trip to Warwick this year despite the travel restrictions imposed by the omnipresent Omicron version. My flights got repeatedly cancelled, meaning I had to fly through Schipol (thanks for the Gouda cumin cheese and stroopwafelen!) and leave at more-than-early hours (even by my standards!). But had more conversations than usual, plus delivered my lecture masked-face-to-masked-face to 19 Warwick students, the first time in 709 days!

Read [in French] the two BDs of Milo Manara on Michelangelo [Merisi or Amerighi da] Caravaggio, which was a Xmas gift!, with as always great in the large scale and character drawings, if not Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro, but less in the scenario, esp. the second part and even more esp. given the agitated life of the artist. And another BD taking place in Cayenne, in 1742, whose drawings also appear in local guides.

Watched 14 Peaks: Nothing is impossible on Netflix, following Nepalese mountaineer Nirmal Purja [of Everest jam fame!] and his team as they manage to climb all 14 eight thousander peaks over 6 months. Including Shishapangma in Tibet, with the added hardship to procure a climbing permit from Chinese authorities for that mountain. The documentary focuses a wee bit too much on Purja’s persona and not enough on the team of sherpas and on the climb itself. Except for the summitings there is very little about the technical difficulties of each summit and the hardships and failed attempts. For instance, the amazing feat of first installing fixed ropes for all 14 summits is only alluded to. Despite reservations about the use of supplementary oxygen (without which, as stressed by Messner, the attempt of climbing all 8000ers in one season would have proved truly impossible and suicidal) and heliporting from one base camp to another, the enormity of the achievement of this team of sherpas remains a monument in the climbing world. (Even only considering that Everest, Lhotse and Makalu were climbed in two days total!)

summit of the gods

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2021 by xi'an

a journal of the plague year [October reviews]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2020 by xi'an

Read two more “little red” books from Éditions Guérin/Paulsen, the fantastic Chamonix editor, namely, Lénine à Chamonix by François Garde, a former Secretary-General of the Government of New-Caledonia, and Les Hallucinés (Un voyage dans les délires d’altitude), by Thomas Venin. The first book is a collection of short stories related to mountains, ranging from the realistic to the fantastic, and from good to terrible. I think in particular of the 1447 mètres story that involves a Holtanna like big wall in Iceland [good start then!], possibly the Latrabjarg cliff—although it stands at 1447 feet, not meters!, and the absurd impact of prime numbers on the failure of the climbing team. Lénine à Chamonix muses on the supposed day Vladimir Illitch “Lenin” Ulyanov spent in Chamonix in 1903, almost losing his life but adopting his alias there [which clashes with its 1902 first occurrence in publications!]. The second book is about high altitude hallucinations as told by survivors from the “death zone”. Induced by hypoxia, they lead hymalayists to see imaginary things or persons, sometimes to act against their own interest and often to die as a result. The stories are about those who survived and told about their visions. They reminded me of Abele Blanc telling us of facing the simultaneous hallucinations of two (!) partners during an attempt at Annapurna and managing to bring down one of the climbers, with the other managing on its own after a minor fall resetting his brain to the real world. Touching the limits of human abilities and the mysterious working of the brain…

Cooked several dishes suggested by the New York Times (!), including a spinach risotto [good], orecchiette with fennel and sausages [great], and malai broccoli [not so great], as well as by the Guardian’s Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes, like a yummy spinash-potatoe pie. As Fall is seeping in, went back to old classics like red cabbage Flemish style. And butternut soups, starting with our own. And a pumpkin biryani!

Read Peter Hamilton’s Salvation, with a certain reluctance to proceed as I found the stories within mostly disconnected and of limited interest. (This came obviously as a disappointment, having enjoyed a lot Great North Road.) Unlikely I read the following volumes in the series. On the side, I heard that fantasy writer Terry Goodkind died on Sept. 17. He had written “The Sword of Truth” series, of which I read the first three volumes. (Out of 21 total!!!) While there were some qualities in the story, the setting was quite naïve (in the usual trope of an evil powerful character that need be fought at all costs) and the books carry a strong component of political conservatism as well as extensive sections of sadistic scenes

Watched Tim Burton’s 2012 Dark Shadows (terrible!) and a Taiwanese 2018 dark comedy entitled Dear Ex (誰先愛上他的) which I found rather interesting and quite original, despite the overdone antics of the mother. I even tried Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd for a few minutes, being completely unaware this was a musical!

trailers versus mountaineers?

Posted in Kids, Mountains, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2019 by xi'an

A slight altercation in a swimming corridor during lunch put me back into this Le Monde paper I read yesterday about (real?!) mountaineers being annoyed at trailers, especially those currently running the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB). A lady stopped me from going further for not crawling as this was a “crawl only” lane and started a lengthy tirade that I cut short by moving to another lane. I find such debates pretty absurd and rather hypocritical. When the fundamental goal is mostly to reduce the number of people on the trails, in the mountains, or in the pool by creating categories with those in and those out. This seems an unavoidable human trend that happened several times in mountaineering, from the early days when going above a certain limited was prohibited to those when climbing solo, rope-free, mixed style, without a registered guide or certificate, &tc. base-jumping, was or became taboo. It is annoying to see crowds in the mountains, whether on the Everest final sketch or on the UTMB track, for sure, but by nature these are singular events and the next peak is almost surely free. It is also annoying to find other climbers on one’s chosen route as they will certainly cause delays, but this is the nature of the game and the next route may well be free. I thus find pretty annoying that some claim their rights to enjoy mountains are higher or purer than others, whom they accuse of elitism and ill-placed competition, when themselves are far from free of the same defect.


insanity at its height

Posted in Mountains, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2019 by xi'an

%d bloggers like this: