Colt Jonner’s Desecration of Descent
Vera Palme and Elif Saydam
A: Yeah, that story is completely fabricated. If you ask me. It’s not the truth about what happened on Everest that night. Johnson was the sole survivor of the so-called ‘Desecration of Descent,’ and everybody seems happily and obtrusively to adopt his heavily twisted - and let’s say controversial - account. I find that very dubious.
Q: But you were also on the mountain that season, hence an important witness. You had met Johnson and Jensen first four years ago on another climb, and then again that season on the trek to Base Camp. Didn't anybody care to hear your side of the story?
A: No, clearly not, nobody is interested at all to hear any other version of what happened out there.
Q: There are bitter differences between Johnson and his critics, especially after he sought crude hermeticism in Montana following his return. Jensen has been presumed dead in the wake of it. What is misrepresented in this account, in your opinion?
A: The vibes that I sensed that season on Everest don’t come across at all. Also the caricature of the gravity and sincerity in ‘Desecration of Descent’ I find repulsively inadequate and people’s reaction to it at Base Camp when they found out what had happened are completely neglected, they aren't mentioned at all.
Q: But are the facts straight?
A: Important details are still up for debate. I mean they always are. It’s hard to say on the mountain. Johnson’s account of what happened to them is a wild tale. That vulgar arm amputation business? And Jensen’s supposedly swift summit alone, before his disappearance? Summiting usually takes about 24 hours. You don't just run up there. That’s a stretch. I find that hard to believe. And it has yet to be verified, even though the mountain was crawling with climbers that season.
Q: But there are people who reported they’d seen a lonely climber, someone that wasn't part of any group, which is unusual. There are also accounts of a salacious haunting ever since.
A: That is ridiculous. That’s jacked. The history of extreme alpine climbing is riddled with mystery and tragic accidents. But rarely a tale that ludicrous.
Q: Johnson also declared he had a near death experience, including some sort of spiritual awakening.
A: Yeah, right!
Colt Jonner's Desecration of Descent is a project by Vera Palme and Elif Saydam for Broken Dimanche Press. Working with and against consequences of genre, the work centres around a collaborative 227 page novel, presented alongside an accompanying soundtrack and poster edition.
Curated by John Holten as part of Berlin Art Week 2018.
Exhibition September 27-30 2018, 11-18h
Marathon book reading September 30, 14-20h