Power and democracy - International Congress of Oral History
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
The History of mountain climbing is a gender biased history. In the beginnings of mountaineering in the 18th and 19th century the ideal climber was constructed along stereotyped masculine values and linked to heroic and nationalised discourses. In countries like Great Britain the new founded alpine clubs in the second half of the 19th century were considered as man-only associations. Even if women were not clearly excluded from membership as in many other national alpine clubs their places and roles remained marginalised until the end of the 20th century. This paper investigates former strategies of women climbers to follow their passion for high-altitude mountain climbing despite social and cultural gender-limits. After WWII female climbers in Europe and the US picked up a practice already established by British women in the 1920s and 1930s: all-women-rope teams and expeditions. With the opening of Nepal to foreigners since 1949 new efforts were made to reach the summits of the highest peaks of the world and to discover new areas in the Himalaya region. Even though female climbers were successful for example in the Alps and the Andes, women rarely were among those who headed for the unclimbed 8000m high Himalayan peaks. The phenomenon of women?s-only-expeditions is illustrated from 1955 to the present and as a case study. Oral History interviews with female British and Nepalese climbers are discussed to illustrate motivations and gender-arrangements in the field of mountain sports.