Alpinist Porter decries commercialisation of mountaineering,
calls for making it a way of life
By Ashish Agashe
Mumbai, Jul 21 (PTI) There is a need to distinguish
mountaineering from the "commercial circus" that happens on
the Everest where people crowd the peak in a quest for
personal fame, opines the noted AlpinistJohn Porter.
The president of the Alpine Club in Britain which is
the oldest mountaineering club in the world,is not against
people pursuing their passion for the mountains.
"Mountaineering is seen now as whatever happens on the
Everest and the Everest has become a commercial circus. People
think they can buy a ticket to the summit, he told PTI in an
interview over the weekend here.
You need to distinguish between adventure tourism,
and mountaineering or Alpinism, Porter avers.
Porter, who along with a few other mad men made a
name for themselves by pioneering the art of Alpinism, was in
the city to attend the 18th Girimitra Sammelan, an annual
congregation of mountaineers in the financial capital.
At the event, he was introduced as among the last
survivors of a breed which almost climbed its way into
extinction, in a reference to some of his closest friends who
perished following their pursuits.
In the comments that come after the world was shocked
to see a long queue near the summit of the Everest during this
years climbing window, Porter says depending on all sort of
support from the Sherpa to climb a peak, is not
One needs to put in the time and energy in the
pursuit, and gain relevant experience which helps in taking
better decisions in the future to be a mountaineer, he
Referring to the practice of the Sherpas setting up
fixed ropes right from the base camp to the summit, he has the
following to offer: As soon as you unclip from the rope, then
Elaborating on Alpinism, the discipline Porter has
pioneered, he says mountaineers take excess risk by spending
more time on the mountains, thus they develop the concept of
climbing light and fast after necessary study of a peak.
The more you can cut down your weight, the faster you
can go up remain safer atop. That is the joy of climbing. Come
back in the nick of time safer, he says.
Porter also advises that if something goes wrong, the
mountaineer should have the presence of mind to hold onto
safety as the paramount interest and turn back.
He also lists amongst the list of absolute necessities
the need to take a relook and recounts the climbs completed
sans any tents or hammocks or even sleeping bags, where the
climbers expose themselves to two uncomfortable nights using
only down-jackets for warmth.
Asked if this is the most puritan way of climbing, he
answers in the affirmative saying, its certainly spiritual,
but there are no holy grails in climbing. The most important
thing is to come back."
He says there is also a need for mountaineers to learn
the art of suffering, thanking a few Polish climbers for
helping him understand the same.
On the Indian mountaineering scene, Porter says the
country always had strong climbers and recounted a joint
expedition he had with the city-based explorer Harish Kapadia
in the Himalayas way back.
He also feels development of sport climbing bodes well
for climbing and will help the discipline of mountaineering.
Porter, however, also rues that a few Indians are
advertising themselves as mountaineers by achieving a few
feats but admits that such self propagationis a worldwide
You need to make mountains and mountaineering a way
of life, he signs off. PTI AA BEN