Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Today I was going to write about the new Walkers promotion. I thought it was nice that they'd made a real effort and redone the packs for comic relief. I thought that red ears was OK, but felt sorry that little kids were going to get their ears flicked in the playground. Yada Yada.

Then I saw this promotion in the metro. And I followed the link to the discovery channel.

So what, you say. Climbing documentary. Metro promotion by the production company. Woo woo what a tomato.

Ah, but its a can of worms you see. read this.

Now its most definitely not for me to comment on the morality of people leaving others on a mountain to die. I've read Touching The Void, I've had to sort people out when they've dislocated a shoulder climbing 10 minutes from a road in the Lakes, and seen rescue teams searching for people in the Alps. There's lots of things at play in these situations and what seems easy in front of a laptop is much more difficult when you're faced with someone's death, and potentially your own during a rescue.

However I find the democratisation of the high Himalaya truly frightening. Chris Bonington wrote in the Everest Years about Everest Base camp being polluted to a point where drinking from streams caused illness. Berghaus ran a campaign to clear it up in the 90's - making a replica mountain out of all the rubbish they'd carried off. Now you read about high numbers of deaths, people queuing on fixed ropes and arguing with their guides. I find the whole situation quite shocking.

High altitude mountaineering isn't skiing for a week in an Italian resort. It isn't even a trip skiing off piste in Canada. The early pioneers had a shocking death rate, and they knew what they were doing. Just because you can afford, doesn't mean you can.

Now I don't want to put down anyones achievement, especially when they've probably saved all their lives to go. But I look back to the time when people climbed with a group who'd chosen each other. If it went wrong, they were on their own. You looked after each other, or you died.

Anyway, I started this thinking about promotions. Particularly the metro one for the discovery channel. And then thought I'd give my perspective on the issues behind what looks like a normal promotion.

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