A National Post (Toronto) article about a Canadian’s rescue of an abandoned and ill Pakistani porter on a Himalayan mountain included the comments of Maurice Isserman, the James L. Ferguson Professor of History. The co-author of Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes, Isserman discussed the shift in attitudes among some mountain climbers. The article, titled “Canadian Climber puts off summit glory for rescue,” appeared on July 13.
That a climbing team would leave a porter who was suffering from severe altitude sickness alone and unaided, Isserman observed, may be due to the fact that climbers no longer spend months traveling to base camps, developing close relationships with their porters. “Today,” he said, “people are helicoptered in, leaving little time for friendship building. The mythologized ‘brotherhood of the rope’ has frayed as climbers with more individualistic interests take to the mountain, their investment of time and money top of mind. In this context, porters can be considered dispensable.”
K5 -the eleventh highest mountain in the world, nestled in the Karakoram range along the Pakistan-China border.