'Endurance Work': Embodiment and the Mind-Body Nexus in the Physical Culture of High-Altitude Mountaineering
2017, The Author(s) 2017. The 2015 Nepal earthquake and avalanche on Mount Everest generated one of the deadliest mountaineering disasters in modern times, bringing to media attention the physical-cultural world of high-altitude climbing. Contributing to the current sociological concern with embodiment, here we investigate the lived experience and social 'production' of endurance in this sociologically under-researched physical-cultural world. Via a phenomenological-sociological framework, we analyse endurance as cognitively, corporeally and interactionally lived and communicated, in the form of 'endurance work'. Data emanate from in-depth interviews with 18 high-altitude mountaineers, 10 of whom experienced the 2015 avalanche. The article responds to Shilling's call to address an important lacuna identified in sociological work: the need to investigate the embodied importance of cognition in the incorporation of culture. The concept of endurance work provides a powerful exemplar of this cognitive-corporeal nexus at work as a physical-culturally shaped, embodied practice and mode-of-thinking in the social world of high-altitude climbing.