What Sir John Hunt described beautifully as “the problem of Everest” is a different problem now than it was for the 1953 expedition. These days Everest is anything but the great unknown, so commercialized that it has become symbolic of a world used up by humans: crawling with amateur adventurers who can afford it and littered with the corpses of those who do not make it down. Indeed, the mountaineer summiting Everest has become the ultimate figure of human achievement, a sort of mascot of upward mobility. Today’s climbing body is more often than not presented as a convergence of the values of performance, speed, and eӽciency, in perfect compliance with neoliberal fantasies of the individual who overcomes adversity as well as with biopower’s demand for docile bodies. This essay explores the death of top speed climber Ueli Steck as a site for rethinking the Anthropocene as the environmental aspect of biopolitics.

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