Carrot and stick – what’s the effect? Article published in the Danish Prison and Probation Service magazine, Nyt fra Kriminalforsorgen vol. 06 2008, page 18-19, cf. http://www.kriminalforsorgen.dk/publika/nyt/Nyt08_06/pdf/helepubl.pdf Carrot and stick – what’s the effect? One measure is often proposed when someone wants a different behavior from somebody else: To use carrot
Higher With his thick african accent, Mount McKinley. It provided some comfort
our pilot instructs the cabin knowing that when answering the question, crew to prepare for landing. I “What is the use in climbing mountains?”, legen-gaze out at the glistening snow- dary British explorer George Mallory replied, “It capped peak I’ve dragged my girlfriend, Mia, is no use … What we get from this adventure is halfway across the planet to climb. There it is: just sheer joy.” But I wanted Mia, especially, to Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, at 5895 metres understand the mindset of an adventurer and the world’s highest free-standing mountain. I feel Mallory’s explanation fell terribly short. What for the beautiful engagement ring in my pocket better way for her to gain an appreciation of and imagine I’m Frodo Baggins on a quest. But as mountaineering than to experience it herself? my stomach churns, I know I need to conquer I wanted her to feel the ice crystals crunch like my recently developed – but deep – fear of alti- cornflakes under her boots, fill her lungs with air tude to pass the gates of Mordor and complete it.
purer than the Mother Mary and feel the warmth Last year, my romantic notions of mountain- of the sun’s first rays rising over a continent.
eering were decimated by an attempt to climb my All these noble thoughts begin to disappear as first big mountain, Mount McKinley, North we descend towards Tanzania and I realise that I America’s highest peak. I still wake at night reliv- really shouldn’t have eaten that chicken in Nairobi. ing the moment I received news of the deaths of I hotfoot it to the bathroom the moment the two climbing friends in a tragic accident near the plane doors open. An hour later, after our 4WD summit, our efforts to rescue another three pulls up at the base of the mountain, I am barely climbers injured after a nasty fall, and the fact able to stand, so just flop on the ground listening that, rather than conquering McKinley, we were to our guides and porters preparing for the eight-forced to retreat after I succumbed to the crip- day climb. The novelty of having porters to carry the Tasman Sea in a double kayak, but pling effects of altitude sickness. our gear is incredibly welcome, but as we set off I felt so tortured that I binned my ropes and up the muddy track from the foot of the moun- hung up my ice axe. But within weeks my irra- tain, I’m unable to appreciate our lush rainforest adventure to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, tional urge to go climbing returned. I showed surrounds. Mia sympathises, but can’t resist the family and friends photos and told stories, but no occasional joke: “Seeing you’re the oh-so-tough one understood my motivation, especially when adventurer, the gods must’ve thought it fair to I could not explain what had happened to me on even up the playing field!” august 27, 2011 GoodWeekend 37
we stumble into camp on the first night and that momentarily stopping causes our fingers I collapse in our tent. My fever peaks through the and toes to turn into something more closely re- night while I drift in and out of vivid hallucina- sembling Calippo ice blocks than human digits. tions. I’m fairly sure we’ll be heading back down We sway euphorically along the crater rim, know- the mountain in the morning. So much for over- ing that in less than 90 minutes we’ll reach coming my fear of altitude and showing Mia what Africa’s roof. Nothing is going to stop us now. Tears wash down my face from both happiness As morning breaks, I lie listening to the porters and I don’t know what. How will I propose to chanting mountain songs in Swahili. Eventually I Mia, and what kind of reaction should I expect? peel my eyelids open, awaiting the nausea’s re- Staring ahead, the morning’s first rays reveal an turn. Surprisingly, I feel human again. Looks like object fluttering in the distance. Surely not … yes the cocktail of antibiotics, Nurofen, Stemetil, nervous hours, we don layers of clothing ready to … it is the summit flags. Our pace quickens and Imodium and Diamox I swallowed yesterday has combat the freezing temperatures. We set off for all of a sudden we’re there. No more up! Straight worked a miracle. I crawl from my sleeping bag. the summit at 11.30pm with our goal to reach the away, I clumsily pull off my puffy gloves, reach Then swaying a little, calf muscles cramping and crater rim (5500 metres) before the sun warms into my jacket pocket, find the ring and drop tummy contorting, I realise my hallelujah mo- the frozen scree and makes progress impossible. down on bended knee. Mia looks shocked, but I ment was premature. I force down some dry toast Time seems to stand still as we edge up the don’t hesitate: “Mia, will you marry me?” and decide to push up to Camp Two, taking it mountain in darkness. Have we been walking for Her reaction isn’t what I’d imagined. There is nice and slowly (pole-pole, as they say in Swahili).
five minutes or 50? Lack of oxygen to the brain no reply, just a few nervous giggles and grunts As the days progress I begin to feel stronger. So – less than half of what you’d find at sea level – that don’t resemble anything like a “yes” … or a far, so good. At High Camp (4600 metres) we sip compounds the confusion and it feels as though “no”, for that matter. It is going to be a long, awk- tea, doze and acclimatise as we prepare for our we are trying to sprint up a staircase while suck- ward walk down the mountain if I don’t get an midnight ascent to the summit. Late that after- ing breath through a drinking straw. Our assist- answer soon. Not quite knowing what to do, I noon a piercing cry of pain and a stampede of ant guide is also having trouble breathing and prod: “So, should I take that as a yes or a no?” rushing feet wakes us from our mid-afternoon snooze. Mia and I sit bolt upright to see a man After four hours shuffling upward, the terrain Still on one knee, I slip the ring on her finger. with a broken leg being carried on a stretcher. We steepens and the track zig-zags up the near-verti- The diamond sparkles in the early morning light. hear one porter nonchalantly disclose that just 12 cal last few hundred metres to Stella Point on the We hug each other, symbolically making a pact hours earlier he’d carried the corpse of a European crater rim. Our progress slows and I become ex- that this is the new dawn of our life together.
tremely irritable; my hands begin to freeze. “Keep Standing with Mia atop Kilimanjaro means The situation is eerily similar to what I experi- calm, mate,” I mutter to myself, feeling the famil- more to me than conquering any other moun- enced on Mount McKinley. Self-doubt begins to A climb romance:
iar symptoms. “Keep plugging on, one foot in tain. I can see in her an understanding of what it consume me and negativity bombs my mind: is front of the other. You’ve got a ring to deliver.” means to climb mountains – in essence, what it this an experience I want to share with Mia? How After endless switchbacks, the terrain begins to means to be me – and, best of all, she seems to will our bodies handle the higher altitude? What level out and I clumsily bump into our guide’s like it. The climb has allowed the person I wanted happens if she gets sick? What was I thinking? back. “Welcome to Stella Point!” he exclaims, lift- to spend the rest of my life with to understand Mia talks it all through with me and, after a few ing his arms to embrace Mia and me. It is so cold what it is to be an adventurer.
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