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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mountain Madness

posted by on December 28 at 9:04 AM

It’s not good news. From the NYT:

A body believed to be that of one of two American climbers missing in China for more than a month has been found high on a 20,354-foot peak in an isolated part of Sichuan Province, searchers said Wednesday. The search continued for the second climber, who is also presumed to have perished.

The missing climbers, Christine Boskoff, 39, and Charlie Fowler, 52, are elite mountaineers who have reached the summit of many of the world’s highest peaks, including Mount Everest. People in the United States last heard from them Nov. 8….

“It was a leg that was protruding through the snow,” Mr. Jones said. “The ID is only that it is a gray boot, a blue gaiter and modern mountaineering equipment.” A gaiter is worn over a climber’s upper boot and lower leg.

He said that searchers felt certain the body they had found was one of the missing American climbers because of the equipment with the body and because monks in a monastery a few thousand feet below had reported meeting the climbers on Nov. 12.

“At that point they indicated they would be coming back to the monastery in about four days and, of course, they didn’t,” Mr. Jones said.

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Mountain climbing is the new shark attack

Posted by Mike in MO | December 28, 2006 9:27 AM

Oh those unfortunate and privileged mountian climbers. What a faux tragedy!

There are now one hundred dead soldiers in Iraq so far this month - closing in on most deaths in one month for the year, and in the top five worst months since this bullshit started.

Will Democrats protest in the streets if Bush calls for more troops or at least maintains his stay the course mantra?
will they stay home and simply write snarky blog entries about his administration, idiotic dead presidents and retarded mountain climbers?

Posted by patrick C | December 28, 2006 9:54 AM

Yeah, Patrick, protest in the streets. That's always worked before.

You're right, mountain climbers are stupid. But people are fascinated by them; it's a really difficult challenge where they frequently end up on the wrong side of safety. I'm not that interested, but a lot of people are. And it seems like more and more of them are taking bigger risks and getting killed.

Posted by Fnarf | December 28, 2006 10:02 AM

Tekeli li! Tekeli li!

Posted by art | December 28, 2006 10:09 AM

i would be interested to see if the statistics for mountaineering deaths are any higher or lower than normal.

Posted by charles | December 28, 2006 10:25 AM

I climbed with Chris one day last summer, just before she left for Asia. She was amazing woman who touched thousands of lives, including mine. I will miss her.

Posted by Eric | December 28, 2006 10:41 AM

Whether or not it works is never going to be obvious.

Electing an opposition party (of sorts) into a majority (of sorts, tenuous and not veto protected) will accomplish nothing unless the fickle and manipulative and corrupt politicians are reminded about why they won.

The job of the Democrat fawners isn't done. Letter writing campaigns and email barrages are less effective than street demonstrations. Putting your ass in the middle of the street after Bush calls for tens of thousands of more troops isn't an unreasonable action. Sitting on our ass in front of the laptap saying "tsk tsk" isnt very effective either.

What are the other options? Counting dead mountain climbers will grow old soon and then it will be shark season.

Posted by patrick C | December 28, 2006 10:42 AM

Yes, protesting in the streets is very effective. For the other side.

Posted by Fnarf | December 28, 2006 10:55 AM

dude i stomped around in the streets before the war and it didn't do fuck all. everyone wanted to pimp their own pet cause and it bred a frothy irrationality that turned a complex issue into "war is terror" and any other bumper sticker slogan. street protests are the height of ineffectualism right behind political concerts. you might have a point about snarky bloggers being poor agents of change, but your alternative isn't a valid one either so...

Posted by charles | December 28, 2006 10:58 AM

Patrick C,

I've marched in several Iraq War protests and they've obviously been ineffective.

We need to do what the media and the DC pundit class has refused to do: call Bush and everyone who follows him (generals, senators, etc.) FOOLS. It's ridiculous how they desperately twist and contort everything to make Duh-bya look like a Serious Leader. At least calling them out on it might shame some people into doing the right thing.

In the words of the great Alec Guinness, “who is more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?”

Posted by Original Andrew | December 28, 2006 11:01 AM

I need to come up with a better alternative to demonstration? I do? Me?!?!

The only alternative to disorganized, unruly multi-purpose, uncivilized rallys against the status quo is to call people fools? Who lead anyone to believe that there was something neat and tidy about democracy?

Let's see here...those who support Bush are fools, but those that are opposed to the increase in the cannon fodder and the on-going bankruptcy of the country are going to sit around bitching about it while waiting for some unknown stranger (me) to post a comment in a blog that provides them with an acceptable, sane and pretty, let alone fool-proof new method of democratic expression.

Oh, and lets not overlook the Democrat fanatics favorite slogan - "any action you take will only aide the other side, no matter what it is or when you do it, so just do nothing. Something will happen all on it's own. That Pelosi gal is a real mover and shaker. Don't rock the boat, baby! Now quiet down and turn on to Perry Como!"

Man...don't you ever get tired of telling yourself that lie? Dissent will make the opposition look bad? That is rich! Do you have ANY suggestions, Fnarf, or are you really just Mr. Cellophane, Democratic shill?

Get 'em in office...that's my job...what they do after they get there...who cares?

Posted by patrick C | December 28, 2006 11:34 AM

Mountain climbers are stupid, eh? So who are your ideal athletes? NBA, or NFL? American or National League baeball players? They're a fine bunch of brainiacs, usually. Climbers are almost always amateurs, and have to be in excllent physical condition. Or do you admire NASCAR or hydroplane drivers?
Climbing is kind of a madness, but one thing it does do is get you to places that are relatively untouched. Some people want to see these places on the planet before they're scraped away for profit.
Ad climbers are generally not privileged, at least financially. Read "The History of Camp 4", regarding the early days of climbing in Yosemite National Park. They were an alternative lot, focused almost entirely on putting up routes, not making money.
I met Chris a few times. She runs a business that provides challenging and exhilirating experiences for all kinds of people who want to do something other than sit on their fat asses and snipe.

Posted by isabelita | December 28, 2006 11:38 AM

It is sad that the climbers passed away.

However, I admire people who leave nature well enough alone and don't feel the need to 'conquer it'.

Posted by sad | December 28, 2006 11:44 AM

Sad: "I admire people who leave nature well enough alone and don't feel the need to 'conquer it'."

You mean Tarzan? Hate to break it to you, but he was a work of fiction. Human survival depends on conquering nature. Do you live in a house? In a city? Shop at supermarket? Wear clothing? All of these things entail the bending of nature to our whim.

Posted by Sean | December 28, 2006 12:35 PM

And none of those things resemble mountain climbing.

Mountain climbing is a stupid thing to do, not a thing undertaken by stupid people, so your analogy with the NBA etc. doesn't really hold water. As for "before they're scraped away for profit", well, the tops of mountains aren't really desireable real estate.

I don't have any problem with people being active and fit, but when they endanger their lives for the thrill of it, costing governments hundreds of thousands of dollars in rescue efforts, and causing untold grief for their friends and families, yes, I do have a problem with that.

Posted by Fnarf | December 28, 2006 1:09 PM

“Let's see here...those who support Bush are fools, but those that are opposed to the increase in the cannon fodder and the on-going bankruptcy of the country are going to sit around bitching about it while waiting for some unknown stranger (me) to post a comment in a blog that provides them with an acceptable, sane and pretty, let alone fool-proof new method of democratic expression.”

Patrick C,

Dude, take a chill pill. We’re open to any suggestions that you may have, however we’ve marched, the people have voted, and Bush and his cronies are still stepping on their dicks. They’re even successfully ignoring the much vaunted recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. If there is one silver lining to the “surge,” it’s that it may be the final fiasco that totally destroys the last traces of Republican credibility. But we’re out of legal options.

So, unless you’re willing to form an illegal resistance group ala The Weathermen, quitcher bitchin’.

Posted by Original Andrew | December 28, 2006 1:09 PM

Oh, yes, please do. The Weathermen were SO effective with their bombing and bank robberies. They prolonged the war and elected many, many Republicans.

Posted by Fnarf | December 28, 2006 1:44 PM


We usually agree, but those statements have no basis in fact.

Besides, I was being facetious (or at least that's what I'll claim when I’m strung up at Gitmo).

Posted by Original Andrew | December 28, 2006 2:03 PM

True popular uprisings, ala protests in the Ukraine and in Lebanon, can be effective, but good luck getting apathetic Americans to participate in anything remotely similar.

As it stands, the crazies are overrepresented in American protests. They're determined to draw attention to themselves, the media eat it up, and the general public assumes that all anti-war protesters are bat-shit crazy.

Posted by keshmeshi | December 28, 2006 2:06 PM

Mountain climbers have to die. If it were easy and there was no risk of death, it wouldn't be any more interesting than hiking through a flower filled meadow. Mountain climbers wouldn't have it any other way. It's like that for anything interesting. If no one suffers, no one else can care.

Posted by Gitai | December 28, 2006 2:24 PM

The Weathermen were SO effective, in fact, that 30 years after their extremist attacks (not quite the same thing as attending an anti-war demonstration, Grandpa Fnarf) their actions caused Republican victory in the White House and even gave them majorities in both houses of Congress after the turn of the century.

Yeah, thats it. It was the Weathermen's fault that Reagan, Bush I and Bush II were elected and over the course of 30 years caused the Democratic Party to lose all the power they had.

It wasn't anything the politicians did or didn't do. The Democrats keep getting a bum deal because of all the protests. I wonder what would happen if nobody protested or criticized anything. I bet the Democrats would be the kings of the world. Instead they are just hapless victims.

Original Andrew, if you are still paying attention to this thread anymore
(ahh the marvels of the new democracy...say your piece before the dialog is buried beneath the latest Lindsay Lohan pap smear report)
I don't find it accpetable to sit and wait for more people/soldiers to be killed because we are out of legal options.

It is the least I can do as a citizen to register my dismay in the public square, as has been done for hundreds of years in this country. To say that demonstrations have never had a positive impact on public policy or public opinion ignores the entire history of the country. I would be willing to bet that there were a number of different viewpoints present at any march/rally, but that didn't stop people from showing their elected reps that what is going on is bad enough to get my skinny dismissive ass on the news - or at their office - or in the street blocking traffic.

We've been chilling out too long, Andrew. The idea of instant results from taking one simple act is the result of our lazy ass culture. It isnt instantly gratifying to march, but it beats the shit out of ranting to nobody in a stupd blog especially in a stupid post about a bunch of stupid mountain climbers.

Posted by patrick C | December 28, 2006 4:07 PM

FNARF: "when they endanger their lives for the thrill of it, costing governments hundreds of thousands of dollars in rescue efforts"

If you're going to turn this into an economic issue, then let's do it fairly. The majority of the cost for US rescues like the one on Mt Hood are absorbed by volunteers, the military (which get's better training out of the deal than the equally expensive drills they otherwise run), and the families of the victims. The remaining costs amount to a tiny fraction of a penny to you and I, the tax payer. Put a penny in the change dish and you've already paid your share hundreds of times over.

The rescue costs, in turn, are far outweighed by medical expenses such as pills, cataract surgery, hip replacements, nurses, and motorized scooters, that these three would have incurred had they lived to be 80 or 90 years old. You and I individually pay untold thousands of dollars in taxes for medicare and elevated insurance premiums to keep senior citizens alive decades past their productive years. The collective cost to our country is in the billions.

Bitching about rescue costs is penny wise and pound foolish.

Posted by Sean | December 28, 2006 4:40 PM

Patrick C,

I did not say "don't protest," I just said that it's not stopping this war (at least not fast enough). I'm glad you're protesting. You sound like you just read "A People's History of the United States" which is an awesome, if infuriating book.

The Bushists are just ignoring everyone. They don't care that the check engine light has been on for four years, they're going to drive this car till it explodes.

While I certainly don't condone the Weathermen's methods (bombings, etc), I do admire their dedication to fighting the good fight. And they did bust Timothy Leary out of prison which is pretty freakin' rad.

Posted by Original Andrew | December 28, 2006 4:56 PM

Thanks, Andrew. I think the Weathermen were pretty cool too. The documentary done on them in the past year or two was great. Hopefully it is on DVD and available somewhere.

As of today, according to there are 103 dead soldiers this month. We are now 3 dead soldiers away from tying the worst month of the year, with three days left...and less than ten until we hit 3000.

Happy New Year!!

Posted by patrick C | December 28, 2006 5:33 PM


I dont know much about climber rescue in China. But for the US I agree a bit with with FNARF. All your volunteers and family donations aren't paying for all the time of all the gov. workers out around Mt. Hood.

We basically have an social agreement that we help each other by paying for the costs of certain risks we all share or incur for no fault of our own (say debilitating mental illness).

We don't all agree ahead of time to pay the cost of government infrastructure and personnel for rescuing mountain climber, but it happens time and time again. Some climbers are experienced. Some climbers aren't experienced.

On the other hand, I don't want to ban climbing even if it could be done.

On the third hand, I suppose there actually is a social agreement that we want the gov to pay much of the cost of hiker/climber rescue since we dont have anyone moving forward legislation to change to status quo.

Plus, I want to be rescued when I or a family member does something stupid or has bad luck. So I guess, I'm of four minds here.

Posted by mirror | December 28, 2006 9:30 PM

charles (no. 9) is so right about the pet causes problem at anti-bush marches. the last one i went to (world can't wait in October), one of the first few speakers was from the communist party. what a great way to get people to tune out. makes us seem like radicals that are off the charts. i am not a communist, but i'm against the bush administration's policies in iraq, so that's why i was there. i wish we could have stayed on point of being regular people united against bush's corruption, rather than making the whole march totally irrelevant by introducing a communist party member who was going on and on about how we should all join their party. the whole thing immediately became a waste of time. next time, i want to see a list of speakers before i show up, so people don't sneak in with their own agenda. nothing about the world can't wait march posters said anything about it being communist party affiliated.

Posted by Audrey | December 29, 2006 10:56 AM

Audrey -

Make a big sign to carry that says "I'm not a communist and Im againt the war."

Also, show up after the speakers are done, or wear your i-pod to tune them out.

If you - an anti-war person - make the judgements about ALL the people that show up to protest, imagine what the Bushites think. All of them are crazy! They are radicals! WE mustnt let them stop us!!! (followed by a Howard Dean like scream)

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water and buy into that propaganda. Yes, there are many people with diverse ideologies that are opposed to the occupation. That is why they have come together. Believing yourself to be somehow tainted by the presence of communists ignores what it looks like when you don't show up.

When you don't show it looks like you either don't give a shit, or you think everything is fine.

Carve your own space and make your presence known. Let Fnarf be the coward that stays home licking his Dianne Feinstein bubble gum cards.

It is the only way I know to get the attention of the media, the self serving politicians and the public.

Posted by patrick C | December 29, 2006 11:39 AM

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