Ascents With A Limit: Women's Expeditions To The Himalayas from 1955 to 1962
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
XIX International CESH Congress
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
?Himalayan expeditions are becoming almost as common as Channel swimmers?, stated the Manchester Guardian in August 1952. Especially after the celebrated first successful ascent of Mount Everest by a British expedition in 1953, the Himalaya became the place to go for more and more European mountaineers, also for female climbers.
In spring 1955 a party of three women ? all three members of the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club ? left the United Kingdom heading to Nepal via India for the first time. Not far from Kathmandu they targeted to discover, explore, and map unknown glaciers and peaks. The three female mountaineers successfully climbed a 21.000 feet (6400 meter) peak for the first time and named it ?Peak Gyalgen?, in honor of their Nepalese Sherpa-leader who was accompanying them.
The talk concentrates on these early women?s expeditions between 1955 and 1962 and debates gendered aspects in self-presentations and public perceptions of the expedition. Therefore expedition reports published in the aftermath, press articles, reports in alpine magazines and oral history interviews are analyzed, as well as archival materials.
As a conclusion it can be argued that female mountaineering pioneers in the 1950s and 1960s were crossing gender boundaries when they undertook expeditions to the Himalayas on their own. At the same time in their self-presentations, they didn?t perceive their project in terms of critics towards social constraints and gender inequality. On the contrary, they tried to reassure their conformity with traditional gender order and didn?t question gender hierarchies. As a result in the talk it can be illustrated that the conflict between social gender roles lived in the daily life and the identity as mountaineers is expressed via a general modest presentation of achievements and references to an ideal physical feminity. Gender roles are negotiated especially in the intersectional context of relationships to non-European male porters and Sherpas.