The role of emotions in the experiences of commercial high-altitude mountaineering guides who have guided above the death-zone
The body of tour guiding research has identified the importance of emotions and emotion management to guide’s experiences. However, there is a far less granular understanding of why, when, and how at each stage of a trip emotions change guide experiences. To date, studies of guides’ emotions have treated an entire experience as a single point of time, and do not provide a coherent picture of how emotions change guide experiences over the course of a trip. This generalised approach has hampered the dynamic and full interpretation of emotions in guides’ experience because emotions have different sets of appraisals, and each emotion of the same valence differs in their influence on people’s experiences over time. Therefore, a deeper insight into how emotions change an actual experience at the moment, as the guiding trip unfolds, is essential to optimising the overall guide’s experiences. This study seeks to fill these gaps by exploring the role of emotions in the experiences of commercial high-altitude mountaineering guides working above the death zone (i.e. over 8,000 meters). The work of commercial high-altitude mountaineering guides (HAMGs), which incorporates expeditions lasting for more than six weeks, provides an opportunity to analyse how emotions change participants’ experiences. This starts with the planning and preparation for the expedition, runs through the actual trip, and incorporates a post-expedition period. All these stages are associated with stress, pressure, and responsibilities to perform the day-to-day tasks that differ substantially across the experience. Data collection was undertaken in Kathmandu, Nepal, where the researcher spent 90 days interviewing (online and in-person) commercial high-altitude mountaineering guides (16 participants: seven female and nine male) from eight countries. Thematic analysis was used to explore how emotions change HAMGs’ experiences across the expedition. Focusing on high-altitude mountaineering guiding, the findings revealed that emotions play a key role in all three main phases of the HAMGs experience. At the pre-guiding stage, the themes individual reasons, social influences, occupational difficulties, and occupational opportunities link to elicited emotions. During the expedition, the experiences of emotions varies in intensity from the time when the expedition team meet in the base camp, throughout the climb, and until the team returns to the base camp safely. In the post-guiding phase, the themes occupational barriers, social influences, and individual reasons represent the complex role of emotions in participants’ experiences. The discussion is bounded by various reasons to continue and discontinue guiding. All of these phases demonstrate how emotions change commercial high-altitude mountaineering guides overall experiences. This study expands the tour guiding, hospitality and emotional labour literature by: (1) providing a coherent picture of how emotions change guides experiences throughout participation; (2) shedding light on the working reality of frontline service employee experiences influenced by emotions; (3) suggesting that commercial high-altitude mountaineering guides perform emotion management acts at every stage of the expedition; (4) translating the findings into recommended practices for mountaineering tourism expedition operators and mountaineering guiding associations.
Advisor: Carr, Neil; Houge Mackenzie , Susan
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Department of Tourism
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: high-altitude; mountaineering; guides; deathzone; emotions; experiences
Research Type: Thesis