The reading challenge of 10 books between June and November is on track…..I think I am lucky to have found this little gem!
A satisfying read. I really enjoyed this book. I wanted to rush back to it to hear of the escapades on Everest. When a book grabs you like that you know it is good! The author has a wonderful vocabulary and I felt I was actually learning something. The characters on the mountain were interesting. It highlighted the stark contrast between the Sherpa’s, and the paying clientele and their guides. The details about climbing a mountain and acclimatisation were interesting. The dark psychology of true characters revealed and the effects of exhaustion and cold was striking. The description of the scenery is lovely…..like I said the author has a wonderful vocabulary and really helps you imagine their experience.
Briefly it is a journalist account of what it is like to be part of a team that is guided up Everest. People pay as much as $65K for the privilege. The competition between different guides of different teams is large. Some have speculated this has forced guides to take risks they would not normally have taken. The difference between climbing with a group of respected mountaineers you trust to look out for you and this commercial enterprise of mostly inadequately trained paying group is quite noticeable. It becomes distinctly obvious that each client is out for themselves having no allegiance to anyone else on the team. They were climbing in a team, but were most definitely separate. This is noticeable in the way other clients were often just left on the slopes so people could fulfil their own goals of attaining the summit. For instance on passing another guided team where two members were in dire need of assistance ‘….one of the Ladakhis was ‘apparently close to death, the other crouching in the snow’. No words were passed No water, food or oxygen exchanged hands. The Japanese moved on and 160 feet farther along they rested and changed oxygen cylinders…….Shigekawa explained we were too tired to help. Above 8,000 meters is not a place where people can afford morality’.
The book is a book about endurance and Will and pushing the body and mind to the extreme.