Science, Tech & Environment

Documentary follows blind mountaineers

ST recruited students for her school by getting on a horse and going to villages herself: I wanted to gain some experiences about how blind people were seen. I met young children who were thought that they couldn't talk and were tied to a bed, and thought blind children had no value. These kids were coming to us and they go through a transition, they have a feeling that being blind is something terrible. And then they slowly understand that it's not a punishment. (So how did it ever enter your mind that these kids might want to climb the very mountains that they live along when they have very little climbing experience?) Well it wasn't really my idea to let blind children climb a mountain. My idea was to invite the first blind mountaineer to stand on Tibet and our kids were amazed when they heard about him. So he was a very important stage in their lives. this was the contents of a letter I wrote to him in 2002 and he immediately responded but said that he wanted to do something with the kids. So I got more and more scared because I'm not a mountaineer. (So this man is an experienced mountaineer, so what happened?) Well we thought about well, should we really do this? I was worried about climbing an enormous peak. But then we came to a point where we thought that these kids have a right to discover their own environment and how to conquer their own environment and a blind person should teach these kids. (So he came with a coterie of sighted people who helped them to train. So we chose Stormy Mountain, why?) I think he chose it because it's a spectacular mountain and from the techniques you needed it wasn't so hard. (So in fact there was some dissent among the adults about how dangerous a route this was. Take us on part of the trip). It's high altitude and the kids really suffered because we didn't have much time to lose and then of course the clash came on 2,100 feet when we started to doubt ourselves about the real value of this. The team was splitting up because some of the kids had altitude sickness. We were asking ourselves if there was no team, what are we doing? [a clip from the movie of a conversation debating whether to continue or not]. (What were you saying to a student at the time?) Well we had different goals, mine were teamwork and solidarity and theirs was to make a huge statement.

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