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Climbers' narratives of mountain spaces above 8000 metres: a social constructivist perspective

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This article analyses narratives used by mountaineers experiencing mountain spaces above 8000 metres. Adopting a social constructivist perspective, the article focuses on published narratives by established mountaineers (focusing on Everest and K2), with the aim of exploring perceived notions of mountain spaces above 8000 metres as psychological and geographical physical and mental thresholds. By discussing specific narratives associated with technological aids (e.g. oxygen masks), summit fever, risk‐taking, the role of guides as important intermediaries for the reinforcement of socially constructed extreme mountain spaces, or the politicisation of mountain spaces through risk perceptions clouded by nationalism, the article argues that narrative constructivism helps us question nature‐society dualisms linked to high mountain spaces, especially by emphasising the artificiality of dehumanised spaces such as the ‘death zone’ above 8000 metres.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2011.01021.x

Affiliations: School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth PL4 8AA,

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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