By Peter H. Hansen
The heritage of climbing has lengthy served as a metaphor for civilization positive. as soon as upon a time, the Alps have been an inaccessible habitat of specters and dragons, till heroic men—pioneers of enlightenment—scaled their summits, categorised their strata and plant life, and banished the phantoms ceaselessly. a desirable interdisciplinary learn of the 1st ascents of the foremost Alpine peaks and Mount Everest, The Summits of recent Man surveys the far-ranging importance of our encounters with the world’s such a lot desirable and forbidding heights.
Our obsession with “who acquired to the head first” can have all started in 1786, the yr Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard climbed Mont Blanc and inaugurated an period during which Romantic notions of the chic spurred climbers’ aspirations. within the following a long time, mountaineering misplaced its progressive cachet because it turned linked in its place with bourgeois outside rest. nonetheless, the mythic tales of mountaineers, threaded via with topics of imperialism, masculinity, and ascendant Western technology and tradition, seized the mind's eye of artists and historians good into the 20 th century, offering grist for level exhibits, poetry, movies, and panorama paintings.
this present day, we are living at the threshold of a scorching planet, the place melting glaciers and emerging sea degrees create ambivalence concerning the conquest of nature. lengthy after Hillary and Tenzing’s ascent of Everest, although, just like smooth guy perfect at the mountaintop keeps its foreign money. Peter Hansen’s exploration of those continual photos shows how tough it truly is to visualize our courting with nature in phrases except domination.