Those who think of writing as a sedentary activity clearly have never taken Hamilton's Adventure Writing course — and they certainly haven't met Conrad Anker. Anker, a two-time climber of Mount Everest and author of The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mount Everest, visited the Hill in September to talk with students about mountaineering and the value and importance of exploration. While on campus, he also spoke with the Adventure Writing section of Writing 110, taught by Maurice Isserman, the James L. Ferguson Professor of History and himself co-author of a forthcoming book on the history of Himalayan mountain climbing, Fallen Giants. The course is co-taught by Andrew Jillings, director of outdoor leadership.
And, joined by students, faculty, staff and President Joan Hinde Stewart, Anker did a bit of climbing at the Bruce Climbing Wall in the Blood Fitness and Dance Center. He managed the 40-foot ascent without mishap — not a surprise, since he has –specialized in scaling some of the most technically challenging mountains in the world. In 1999, as a member of the Mallory and Irvine research expedition, Anker discovered the frozen body of George Mallory, the pre-eminent Himalayan explorer of the 1920s.
Anker told a packed Kirner-Johnson Auditorium on the night of his visit that while climbing may originate in a desire to test personal limits and fulfill oneself, it can ultimately lead to a quite different perspective. "In the Himalayas, I thought, 'This is great, this is all about me, me,'" he said. "But when I got there, the mountains were big, and I felt quite insignificant."