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But Women on High is much more than a retelling of first ascents and summits climbed. Brown delves into the heart of what compelled these women to break with tradition and travel above and beyond where women -- and most men -- had gone before. The quest for independence, search for spiritual and personal fulfillment, and longing to step outside proscribed gender boundaries are only a few of the motivations that inspired these women -- much as they still do today.
As the author traces the evolution of female mountaineering through the Victorian era and into the early decades of the 1900s, she illuminates the very real social and physical boundaries women had to overcome -- whether social norms that dictated a woman's place as in the home, corsets that exerted as much as seventy pounds of pressure on their midsections, or long skirts that caught on rocks and crags as women climbed harrowing slopes. In the process, Brown's riveting portraits of these pioneers of mountaineering reveal how their astonishing ascents of the world's highest summits are as extraordinary today as they were more than one hundred years ago. Women on High delivers stories of danger and daring and determination, stories that will captivate anyone -- historian, climber, and armchair adventurer alike -- who simply loves a good story.
Fanny Bullock Workman and Dora Keen
While Annie Smith Peck chipped away at Mount Huascarán in Peru, her rival Fanny Bullock Workman was campaigning in remote and largely unexplored areas of northern India and Tibet. And another American, Dora Keen, was beginning an alpine career that would shortly place her among the world's elite explorers. These women shared many traits-unbounded, never-say-die resolve, an unshakable belief in the abilities of their sex, courage, and stamina were just a few. Their circumstances, however, provide striking contrasts.
While Peck scrimped and scraped together funds for her travels, Bullock Workman and Keen, like many of the early English and European mountaineers, enjoyed backgrounds of wealth and privilege. Like Peck, they started climbing in the Alps but made their names as mountaineers in far-flung regions. Keen was one of the earliest climbers in Alaska, and Bullock Workman made pioneer excursions in the western Himalayas, Hindu Kush, and Karakoram Ranges.
Each of the three approached leadership differently. Peck organized and led her own expeditions, even as she enlisted help from men with various levels of expertise. They resented her authority, and it would not be surprising if the more they resisted her, the more officious and inflexible her manner became. Bullock Workman, on the other hand, climbed as an equal partner with her husband. Keen, in a further contrast, hired the best local leader she could find. While she chose the goals for her expeditions, she entrusted her leaders with critical decisions.
Like Peck, Bullock Workman and Keen viewed their mountaineering as proof of what women could achieve. And like her, they exemplified the "New Woman" striding purposefully from the confining Victorian age into the twentieth century. While, like Peck, they occasionally interpreted their actions in feminist terms, their motivations were also broader. Keen reveled in the transcendent beauty and awesome power of nature, and believed that through mountaineering both men and women could test themselves and live life to the fullest. Bullock Workman was driven by a pure love of exploration; she too saw mountains and glaciers as awesome and breathtaking objects, but also as foes and obstacles for conquering in a contest of wills.
|Sisters in Mont Blanc|
|3.||Doing the Mountains Jolly||33|
|The Golden Age|
|6.||Elizabeth Le Blond||79|
|7.||An Easy Day for a Lady||97|
|The Lady Trampers|
|8.||Women of the White Mountains||119|
|The High Mountaineers|
|9.||Annie Smith Peck||143|
|10.||The Apex of America||165|
|11.||Fanny Bullock Workman and Dora Keen||187|
|The Next Generation: Miriam O'Brien Underhill||217|