The Naked Elements

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

Because It’s There: Exploration in the Anthropocene [part 2]

In the second half of his interview with Gen Anthro, Hari Mix talks about his experiences this past spring in the Himalaya and his summit bid for Lhotse without oxygen. He also sheds some light on the costs of mountaineering, respecting weather conditions on the mountain, and what he learned about his own physical ability and about the way rescue decisions are made on mountains. Finally, Hari shares some of his ideas for potential directions he might take his mountaineering in the future. If you missed the first half of Hari’s interview, you can listen to it here.


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[BLOG] Hari’s Lhotse Video & Photos

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

Because It’s There: Exploration in the Anthropocene [part 1]

Today’s episode is the first part of Generation Anthropocene’s interview with Hari Mix, a mountaineer, PhD student, and friend of the producers. In this first half, Hari talks about how he got into mountaineering, and some of his experiences climbing mountains in Colorado and Kazakhstan. He also reflects on a close shave with a collapsed ice bridge in Tajikistan, and on the role of risk in mountaineering. Check back on Friday for part 2 of Hari’s interview, in which he talks about his experience climbing Mt. Lhotse this past spring.


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