Seeing Red: Maoist Rumors, Hidden Transcripts, and the End of the 2014 Mount Everest Climbing Season
Himalayan adventure travel is a burgeoning industry in some mountainous regions of Nepal, but with its rapid, uneven, and largely unregulated growth have come the creation of new economic and social arrangements and renewed questions of equity and safety. On April 18, 2014, a serac collapsed on Mt. Everest’s Khumbu Icefall and killed 16 Nepali high altitude workers. After several contentious days of deliberation and protests at Base Camp, the climbing season effectively ended when rumors began to circulate that attempts to continue climbing would be met with violence by individuals purportedly associated with Nepal’s Maoists. I combine the theoretical framework of Scott’s transcript theory with the interpretive frame of Birrell’s treatment of Everest as a text to be read and analyzed to show how rumors of Maoist involvement, though unsubstantiated, encapsulated specific anxieties and dominant preconceived notions about the structure and function of the Himalayan adventure travel industry.