Peaks vs. Profits

Where it’s so high up you need supplemental oxygen to breathe, the graveyard is growing. Mount Everest, the highest mountain on earth, was summited for the first time in 1953 by Edmond Hillary and a Sherpa named Tenzing Norgay. Sherpas are the native people to the Nepalese part of the Himalaya mountains. The Sherpas livelihood greatly depends on getting paid to carry supplies and food up the mountain for climbers, as well as guiding them up Everest. Because of Nepal’s elevation, they have acclimated by developing a larger lung size. This gives them an advantage when climbing the high altitudes of Everest (Bishop). These experienced climbers are hired by the numerous guide companies that are seizing the fiscal opportunity to guide people up Everest. 

However, some guide companies are being irresponsible with the requirements they have for customers. This has resulted in novice climbers attempting the trek up Everest, endangering the experienced climbers and Sherpas. Every climber needs a permit from the Nepalese government costing $11,000 that goes to the board of tourism (Zargar). This revenue is instrumental for the poor country, so the more permits given out creates more profit for the country, which has resulted in an influx of experienced and inexperienced climbers alike. 

This issue has been brought to light by experienced climbers that have dedicated their life to become expert mountaineers. In a video clip from CBS News on CBS This Morning, experienced climber Jim Davidson is interviewed on his experiences climbing Everest. The exigence of this piece of media is to create an interesting news story by explaining the dangers and new obstacles that come with the excursion. Davidson also calls for changes to be made to the climbing process from many involving the government, guide groups, and the climbers themselves (Morning). In an article from the New York Times, the writers’ exigence is a little different. Their goal is to explain the dangers of Everest, but it is also to describe how a lack of government control over the permit process has allowed inexperienced climbers to become a threat for everyone on the mountain (Schultz). The third piece of media’s exigence, found on Insider by Kelly McLaughlin, is to explain why the permit process is broken for Everest. It then compares the process to other popular climbing destinations. There are different requirements for each mountain set by the country, some more strict than others.

The purpose of the news is to inform the audience of current events. Each broadcast has its own audience and for the video clip featuring Davidson, the audience is listeners of CBS This Morning. The audience is similar to the article in the New York Times because it a news piece. It is written for to share a story to increase profits for the news corporation. Focusing more closely on the content of the video, the audience could be anyone who is interested in climbing, especially Mount Everest, and the dangers that are associated with it. The article in Insider has the same audience but goes into further detail on mountain permits and the effect they have on the climbing atmosphere for each particular mountain.

The constraints are also very similar for all pieces of media. An attitudinal constraint would be that Everest is not interesting to everyone. A person uninterested in Everest would not be inclined to enrich themselves in these pieces of media. The CBS video has its own sets of constraints as it’s a video. There are situational constraints like the ability to not be able to view the video, or attitudinal constraints since it’s an interview and the flow of the conversation can be choppy. It is also constrained by time. The video can’t be too in depth because it must fit a specific time slot. The articles in “The New York Times” and “Insider” are inversely be constrained by the length and level of detail. The article in “Insider” can be constrained by a lack of interest regarding permit processes of other countries.

Nothing can compare to a personal account of what happens on Everest. In the CBS interview, an example of Ethos would be using Davidson as a credible source because he has firsthand experience of what it is like to be on Everest and the changes he has witnessed in the past few years. He summited in 2017 after an avalanche nearly killed him a few years before. He first addresses the permit process in which there is no stringent requirement in who can receive one. He explains the overcrowding problem and calls for a change in the government’s permit process suggesting that the responsibility should fall on the government to restrict permits, as well as requiring guide groups to screen out ineligible climbers, and most importantly that the individual climbers know their capabilities. Similarly, the article in the “New York Times” follows the journey of experienced climber Ed Dohring. This account of another summiteer who has witnessed the problems firsthand giving the article credibility. The article cites his accounts of a congested and littered mountain. These two pieces of media have similar uses of ethos to give credibility to the media’s claims. This contrasts the article in “Insider” which has no significant use of Ethos but mirrors the information presented in the other pieces of media.

Pathos appeals to the audience’s emotions. The emotional triumph of Davidson’s conquering of Everest after he almost died on Everest draws the audience immediately in the CBS video. The use of this close call to standing on top of the world is meant to give the video an enticing hook as well as give some background to his story. Davidson is able to tell a story of what is happening on Everest. He explains why the amount of people on Everest can create problems. When there are an excessive number of permits given out it can create backups in an area called the death zone. He tells the audience that this is a place where bottled oxygen is necessary to survival. When there are backups people’s oxygen tanks can run out before they reach the summit, or on the way back down. This account of what happens on Everest makes it clear why too many permits can add to the risk factor. He also describes what can happen when people get “summit fever.” This occurs when the body and the mind battle on decision making, leading to poor decision such as summiting when the body knows it can’t. An uncoordinated body and mind leads to death on Everest. 

Pathos used extensively the article in The New York Times. Similar to the CBS video, the article starts with a story and but has more emotional literature. This is an advantage an article has over a video. Pathos is used to describe Ed Dohring’s trek towards the peak. He tells his story of avoiding deceased climbers and the difficulties that came with an influx of people. The article includes a picture of Dohring sitting on top of the peak surrounded by people. The chaos is evident. The article tells the story of another climber, Fatima Deryan. She encountered climbers who lacked mountaineering skills. She wanted to help those losing strength but could do nothing to help. If she did, she would put her own life in jeopardy. This is similar to the disorder described in the CBS video in the death zone. The article contrasts Dohring to the inexperienced climbers when it accounts of his preparations for his journey. Pathos is not used extensively in the article in “Insider”.

When people decide to climb Everest, they understand the risks involved. In the article in “Insider”, there are many uses of Logos. It’s reasonable that the cost of a permit would be a revenue maker for Nepal. Many other mountains in the region have permit fees that are comparably high (McLaughlin). This article is different from the other pieces of media because it is very blunt and fact based. The heavy use of logos seems to be the best strategy when comparing Everest’s cost to other mountains. The use of logos seems to be backwards when the ministry of tourism acknowledged the higher than average death rate for this past climbing season but has no plans to cap the number of permits given out. This is backwards because the experienced climbers are basing some of these deaths on the increase in permits. The logical statement is to decrease the amount of permits given if it has been identified as the problem. The numbers and facts given for other mountains could be applied to Everest to cut down on the number of inexperienced climbers. On other mountains requirements include mandatory guide training, rescue deposits, and proof of pre qualifications. These requirements could cut down the number of climbers on Everest, and still create revenue for Nepal’s government. 

In the article in “The New York Times,” Logos is used to explain that the influx of people is due to an unrestricted permit process because of the government’s want for the permit revenue. This causes an excess amount of people which leads to backups above the death zone. When this happens, people make rash decisions that can lead to their death. This is similar to the “Insider” article but is mixed in with Ethos and Pathos. The article brings up a unique point about trash. The increase in climbers has led to an increase in trash. This trash is often littered across the mountain. Also littered across the mountain are climbers who didn’t make it back. As stated in personal accounts, climbers have to avoid these obstacles. The government’s desire to commercialize in order to reap the monetary benefits has changed Everest.

The arguments that Jim Davidson makes in his CBS interview are supported by Logos. His reasons for the higher death toll this season is supported by the facts that there was a small window of acceptable weather, increased crowds, and an increase in inexperienced climbers. The fact that in the death zone the climber’s bodies are literally dying accounts for the need for a change when the amount of people is intensifying the issue. The logic behind summit fever is understandable. Climbers have paid thousands of dollars to summit the mountain, and are battling their body to keep pushing, even if their mind is telling them to turn back too. When the anchor asks Davidson if there is a decrease in travels to Everest after a particularly deadly year, his answer is contrary to the logical answer. Davidson states there is something that draws more people to the mountain after a tragic year, opposite of what makes sense (Morning). His solution to keep the crowds off Everest uses logos because the reasoning behind it is logical. If there is self-regulation and government regulation, there would be less people, backups, and deaths.

The article in “The New York Times” is the most descriptive and in line with its exigence. It applies Pathos to tell personal stories mixed, utilizes Ethos from the people that have summited Everest and including logical arguments and facts using Logos. This article explains how a broken permit system is leaving bodies, experienced and inexperienced alike, frozen in time, right where they took their last breath.