Research Blog Antarctica #6

Non-fiction: Maria Coffey: Where the Mountain Casts its Shadow (Hutchinson, 2003)

After reading so much Antarctic literature, I started to feel that they all drew their inspiration from a very limited canon of sources, the same canon I’m going through now. The same references come up all the time. To combat this, a friend suggested I branch out into sources that are useful as a source of detail and human experiences, but have nothing to do with Antarctica. Things like Arctic and mountaineering literature.

I picked up this book completely at random because of its low price. Its a drawn-out exploration of how the wives and families of mountaineers feel when their men die climbing. As research, its quite useful, because of the narrow focus on the immediate aftermath of human catasrophe. As a reading experience, it was strange to go through, because you could feel the intimacy of the mountaineering community, of which the author is part of. It felt like eavesdropping in the conversation of a close group of friends. It felt like the author didn’t really expect the book to be read by any other people than mountaineers, and certainly not by some guy in Helsinki researching a book about Antarctica.

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