(Troubling) spaces of mountains and men: New Zealand's Mount Cook and hermitage lodge

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London, UK: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group


This article is a historic narrative of male dominated sport of mountaineering in New Zealand from the 1880's to 1953 when Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first climbed to the top of the earth's tallest mountain, Mount Everest, and the inherent inconsistency of this discourse. In New Zealand, this masculinity discourse which was important for their national identity formation, was started around New Zealand's highest peak, Mount Cook. To explain the inherent instability of masculinities, the authors examine how women entered in the so-called men's sport field as mountaineers and were often relegated to support roles as offering food, comfort and safety in the lodges. The authors also examine the important role of the earliest guesthouse in the Mount Cook region, Hermitage Lodge which is situated at the base of the mountain where women only worked for mountaineers and 'listened to tales of daring and danger'. They had few opportunities to achieve the experience of mountaineering. Even though this lodge and its female workers are very important for the success of the mountaineers, narratives often exclude them.


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Women, Gender, Men, Mountaineering, Nationalism, Masculinity, Hegemonic discourse, Women's place, New Zealand


Social & Cultural Geography 2(2):117-139