A Sherpa laughed off his colleague’s death, stunning a Korean teammate on Mt. Everest. In the face of their friends’ deaths, Korean and Sherpa mountaineers behave quite distinctively from each other. Based on anthropological research on Sherpa and Korean mountaineers on Himalayan peaks, this essay makes a case revealing a cross-cultural and prepsychological aspect of mountaineering that upholds death as a principal component of the sport. A combination of highlander lifestyle, quasi-matriarchy, Tantrist ontology, and neocolonial relationship has historically shaped the reciprocal processes of Sherpas’ success in the industry of Himalayan mountain tourism and their characteristic joviality, which discounts the negative side of the sport. In contrast, Korean mountaineers, being reticent and meditative with respect to mountaineering accidents, exhibit a longstanding tradition of Taoist idealism, Buddhist dualism, and Confucian hierarchy as the set of norms and values they bring to the highest mountain peaks.

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