A tale of two men and geology on the roof of the world
by Miles Traer
Still from John Noel’s 1924 film “The Epic of Everest” (copyright John Noel) showing the tiny figures of George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine’s team as they prepared for the summit attempt.
Part I – Onto the Mountain
I’m sitting in a warm room wearing flannel pajamas with a hot meal in my belly when the title card on the movie fades and the 90-year-old film begins to flicker. The circular aperture is neatly divided along a diagonal line: the top featureless white, the bottom textured rough and grey – both ghostly. Darker striations run across the grey, further broken by white snow that looks like a child’s finger painting flecked with white and black dots. It’s only after several seconds that I notice that a few flecks of black are moving along the border between the white and grey, moving higher along the diagonal. Another title card appears and informs me that these tiny flecks are men, and the striated and speckled grey is Mount Everest as she appeared in 1924, on the eve of one of the most famous disappearances in mountaineering history. Continue reading
Emma Marris took some fantastic photos of the garden in San Francisco where we recorded her interview. She has also posted some of them at her Tumblr website, Everyday Nature, which we highly recommend everyone check out for beautiful urban nature photography.
I loved hearing about how Hari started climbing mountains, but I’m even more excited for tomorrow’s release of the second half of his interview, in which he talks about his experiences in the Himalaya this past spring. I remember very clearly the day that I learned Hari was planning on climbing Lhotse. It was back in the fall of last year when Mike, Hari, and I met up for lunch one day at a cafe on campus. Actually, Hari had already eaten, so he just sipped on a can of Coke as he explained to us that he wanted to make the summit bid without oxygen, and that he was spending a lot of time getting his gear together and figuring out how to finance his trip. I had never even heard of Lhotse before that, and as we sat there together at the outdoor cafe table, all of us sweating a bit in the sun, surrounded by students eating lunch, it was hard to imagine any experience that was remotely icy or physically strenuous or oxygen-thin. But this is the kind of landscape Hari was going to.
(Photo credit: Hari Mix. Everest/Lhotse base camp.) Continue reading
Here’s a moment of honesty from behind the scenes at Gen Anthro: although we had heard wonderful things about Eric Lambin, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy his interview. My skepticism stemmed from the topic of his research – land use change. Sounds really important, but kind of boring, right? I thought the takeaway points from an episode about land use change would probably be predictable, and not very compelling. Humans change the land. There are some negative consequences from this. Cue outro music.
As the oracle bones prophesized, I wasn’t sold on the first listen to the interview tape. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, after I had done two or three rounds of edits on the audio, that I thought, Hang on a second. This interview might actually be awesome, because land use change is the most basic Anthropocene concept out there. Our podcast has been running for over a year; how have we not covered land use change until now?! Continue reading