Sam Moses' article Land of the White Wind (April 14) recounting the ill-prepared and ill-fated attempt to climb the South Face of Aconcagua makes for exciting reading, but it does a disservice to serious mountaineering.
Ed Connor's adventure was fraught with errors of judgment and execution. The party got into trouble even before it departed Southern California when an untried member was selected for the assault on Aconcagua. From there on, the expedition smacked of an amateurism that contributed directly to the loss of the two younger climbers, Guy Andrews and Chuck Bludworth.
This story reminded me of another mountaineering tragedy featured by SI (72 Hours of Terror, June 14 and 21, 1965). In that grisly tale, similar errors of judgment resulted in a disaster of similar dimensions, except that the party was larger, rescue was effected in time to save most of them, the mountain—our impressive Grand Teton—was no Aconcagua, and the altitude and orographic elements were not so severe.
There are numerous "successful" climbs in which the planning and performance are far better than in either of these two examples, and most of them involve just as many thrilling episodes. I hope that a future issue of SI will feature a saga of a major mountain ascent wherein there is no postmortem, at least not as a result of ineptitude.
JOHN L. HARPER
A beautifully written piece, marred only by the author's idiotic insistence that it was a "successful" climb.
JOHN C. CUEVAS
Either Michael Baughman (VIEWPOINT, April 7) is dreadfully naive, or he has not researched his subject very well. I refer to his statement, "Not even the staunchest advocates of gun control have ever promoted legislation which would in any way restrict or inhibit America's sportsmen."
That is exactly what some proponents of gun control have done and continue to do. The more candid among them admit that control of handguns is only a first step, that they will not stop until all guns, including those of sportsmen, target shooters, skeet and trap enthusiasts, Olympic rifle and pistol shooters and, yes, even the police, are either banned outright or so severely restricted that few people will be able to use or own them. And the anti-gun forces have been joined by many of the anti-hunting advocates, who see gun control as the best way to impose their views on all of us.
I hope Baughman's son does get to use those shotguns one of these days, but if Baugh-man keeps up his apologies for anti-gun proponents, his kid had better get his shooting in soon.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I object. Michael Baughman cites the opinions of "experts" who claim people who own guns are victims of insecurity, paranoia, impotency and even loneliness. Surely he cannot believe gun owners exhibit these tendencies to a greater degree than non-owners.
I enjoy shooting for the same reason I enjoy bowling and golf, to see how proficient I can become at the sport. There are millions of others like me who shoot for recreation, not because of some unstable psychological condition.