"IT'S ALL PART OF THE JOURNEY TO YOURSELF": LIMINAL EXPERIENCES AS IDENTITY-CREATIG MOMENTS IN CONTEMPORARY CLIMBERS' AUTOBIOGRAPHIES
Experiencing physical and mental boundaries has always been part of mountaineering. However, over the last 150 years we have witnessed a process in which, in climbers’ accounts, mountaineering and climbing become more and more important as liminal experiences. While in the so-called “golden age” of mountaineering (1850–1865) the authors focused on the first ascents of well-known summits and during the “heroic mountaineering” stage (1930s) they described primarily traverses of increasingly difficult routes, what comes to the fore in contemporary autobiographical works of professional climbers is the representation of subjective and individual liminal experiences. In recent autobiographies climbing gains importance as an individual quest for experiences and is presented as a form of self-fulfilment: liminal experiences of climbers become moments shaping their identity. The process is reflected in the style of climbing, which has evolved from collective expeditions to radical solo climbs. Speed or free solo climbs are an example of such an individualistic approach, in which grappling with oneself gets at least as much attention as grappling with the mountain. The authors of the article explore, from the perspective of literary studies and sociology, the representation of liminal experiences as identity-shaping moments in contemporary autobiographical works by Lynn Hill (Climbing Free, 2002), Catherine Destivelle (Ascensions, 2003), Alex Honnold (Alone on the Wall, 2015) and Andy Kirkpatrick (Psychovertical, 2008).