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High Crimes: The Fate of Mount Everest in an Age of Greed

High Crimes: The Fate of Mount Everest in an Age of GreedI met a photographer for the Hartford Courant, Michael Kodas, at Green Drinks the other night and it turns out he is also the author of this book. High Crimes.

I’ve always been skeptical about mountain climbers, especially those who climb places that are truly death-defying. I think this might have something to do with the female in me, because my primeval instinct to these particular challenges is “stupid, selfish.”

Why? Climbers who die on top of mountains have left behind not just grieving mother or fathers, but children who will never really know their parent. So it doesn’t surprise me that the people who are driven to climb to such heights are also, sometimes, given to other selfish and greedy traits.

I am curious about this book, because I think it might reveal something about the nature of the person who chases death.

If you are in the Fairfield County area, you can meet Michael Kodas at reading events in Westport today or New Canaan on the 24th. Here’s the website.

3 thoughts on “High Crimes: The Fate of Mount Everest in an Age of Greed

  1. SOC,
    I thought alot about what I wrote before I wrote it. I can’t explain the emotional rationale that is embedded in my opinion about this. It’s merely what it is. I’ll say this: driving isn’t a “hobby.” And my argument was merely being made about those people who have responsibilities back at home, yet seem to still be driven on to do something that certainly an optional life choice.

    I don’t really have an problem with single women or men climbing, but as it is very expensive to make the climb, often it is older climbers, who have families. That’s the point I was making.

    But I agree that there is likely some other trouble that these wild sorts would get themselves into, if they weren’t climbing mountains. I’m the last person to tell someone to stifle their dream. But when it comes to parental responsibility, there is no question where priorities have to begin. They don’t have to take the standard suburban minivan shape, but they shouldn’t be found on remote mountaintops.

  2. The part that bothers me is the trash they leave all over the mountain, including frozen bodies. It can never be cleaned up or decay but as long as they have a goal and strive for it that’s okay. Well its not okay with me I’d make them go back up and clean it or die trying.

  3. I find this attitude rather odd, which is basically:

    I’ve personally decided exactly how much risk is permissible in life, and anyone who takes slightly more is an idiot,


    I have also decided what constitutes an acceptable degree of selfishness and greed, and the ways in which I exhibit those traits are less self-absorbed than yours.

    Do you drive? You might be horrified to learn how risky that is. (Though I suspect you probably have SOME idea – and yet, you probably still do it.)

    Far greater numbers of people die or are maimed daily via auto accidents than any other form of death (except maybe for war). About 40,000 people a year die in the U.S. alone from auto accidents. That is something close to 800 people a week.

    Worldwide, the estimate is over 1 million auto-related deaths a year – this doesn’t include the millions who live but are seriously injured, and the hundreds of thousands who become amputees or suffer from head injuries.

    This also fails to take into account the harm to the environment, the blood shed over oil, etc.

    The female in you cries out against the stupid and selfish? There is an incredibly gynocentric implication in there somewhere.

    If this comment has been a little too harsh, I apologize. This just struck a nerve. While I do not engage in extreme-altitude climbing, neither am I blind to the fact that we all engage in incredibly selfish and risky behaviors all the time.

    For all I know, you may have radically altered your lifestyle in such a way that you do not have to drive anywhere and can simply take public transit or walk anywhere you need to go. If that is the case, I will gladly eat the words of this retort.

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