Mea Culpa: paving yet another way up a crowded mountain

Questions of style and usage in this week’s Independent

John Rentoul@JohnRentoul
Sunday 07 July 2019 00:08
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A long queue of mountain climbers line a path on Mount Everest
A long queue of mountain climbers line a path on Mount Everest

What do you do with a route up a mountain? We had this headline this week: “Everest climbers try to forge new route as corpses and waste litter mountain.” I thought this was odd, because you don’t make a path on a mountain out of metal, but I couldn’t think of a verb that would be better.

In the report itself we talked of setting out to “carve” a new route to the top, which is possibly too literal. Another option would be something vague such as “make” or “establish”, so I decided “forge” was all right after all. It has a second meaning of pushing ahead, forging through a crowd (possibly a corruption of force, the Oxford dictionary speculates), which seems rather apt.

The best solution, of course, would be for people not to climb Everest, and then we wouldn’t have to worry about dead bodies, litter or what to call the finding of new ways to spoil the wilderness.

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