A history of mountaineering tourism
DOI link for A history of mountaineering tourism
A history of mountaineering tourism book
Introduction Tourism is the world’s biggest industry. Although dominated by the mobility of people from developed countries, often travelling to less developed countries for extraordinary experiences, it remains a global phenomenon with a long history and a complex diversity of forms which represent a microcosm of contemporary life: ‘often described as the democratisation of travel, tourism is, nevertheless, shaped and divided by wealth, gender, age, class, education and other social factors’ (Sharpley 1994: 31-32). This chapter will focus upon one particular form, mountaineering tourism. Mountains are wild and dangerous places, surrounded in mythology that generate an attractiveness because of their essential ‘otherness’ – the antithesis of urban civilized life (Riffenburgh 1993). Mountaineering and tourism have evolved a symbiotic relationship, paradoxical and perverse in many respects given the ambition of modernity to control and even eliminate risk, but which nevertheless has created adventure tourism (Beedie and Hudson 2003). ATTA (2013) demonstrate this growth with research that shows 69 per cent of all international departures are from three key regions, Europe, North America and South America. Moreover, 42 per cent of these travellers reported an adventure activity as part of their last trip which values the adventure travel market at $263 billion. Not all of these adventure activities will be land based, but, for reasons that will be set out in what follows, mountains have become fascinating places (Macfarlane 2003). This chapter will develop historical perspectives of mountaineering tourism with a view to illuminating how this relationship has emerged. The narrative will selectively draw upon key elements of this huge topic to ﬁrst explain what tourism is, then what mountaineering is and ﬁnally what is created when the two elements come together. As the story unfolds it is a social and cultural perspective that will provide the analytical framework and several themes will operate as the glue that bonds the chapter together. These include the mechanisms of tourist consumption, the management of risk and processes of commodiﬁcation. The story of mountain tourism fascinates precisely because: ‘Three centuries ago, risking one’s life to climb a mountain would have been considered tantamount to lunacy’ (Macfarlane 2003: 14) yet today:
mountain-worship is a given to millions of people. The vertical, the ferocious, the icy – all these are now automatically venerated forms of landscape, images of which permeate an urbanised Western culture increasingly hungry for even second-hand experiences of wildness and wilderness.