Embodiment in High-altitude Mountaineering: Sensing and Working with the Weather

  • Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson, Lee Crust, Christian Swann
  • Body & Society, November 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1357034x18812947

Weather and the senses in high altitude mountaineering - a sociological study

Photo by Nathan Langer on Unsplash

Photo by Nathan Langer on Unsplash

What is it about?

In this article we explore the ‘weathering’ body in the physical culture of high-altitude mountaineering, such as the Himalayas. Here we examine in-depth the lived experience of weather, and more specifically ‘weather work’ and ‘weather learning’, in one of the most extreme and challenging environments on earth: high-altitude mountains. Drawing on a theoretical framework of phenomenological sociology, and an interview-based research project with 19 international, high-altitude mountaineers, we investigate weather as lived and experienced both corporeally and cognitively. We are particularly interested in conceptualising and theorising the ways in which embodied beings relate to the environment through different aspects of their being. The novel concepts of ‘weather work’ and ‘weather learning’, we argue, provide salient examples of the mind-body-world nexus at work, as an embodied practice and mode of thinking, strongly contoured by the physical culture of high-altitude mountaineering.

Why is it important?

There has been relatively very little sociological research into the physical culture of high altitude mountaineering, and similarly there is a lack of such research on the lived experience of weather. Combining these two under-explored areas provides us with a novel investigation into the ways in which the body, mind and environment interact and interplay in the exciting and challenging domain of high altitude mountaineering and climbing.

Perspectives

Professor Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson
University of Lincoln

This was a fascinating project on which to work with my co-researchers, and gave me the opportunity to delve into a very different physical-cultural world. It was also interesting to find shared experiences in common with other physical cultures, such as distance running and (much lower level) mountaineering with which I am more familiar.

Read Publication

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1357034x18812947

The following have contributed to this page: Professor Jacquelyn Allen-Collinson