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"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting"
-Mary Wortley Montagu
-Mary Wortley Montagu
Jon Krakauer’s book talks about the events surrounding a tragic climbing season on Everest in April 1996, but he also brings the reader into the world of mountaineering. What people will put themselves through to be able to reach the pinnacle of Everest, even back to the first attempts to climb this mountain, and those who have lost their lives over the years attempting to reach the top.
This book provided a glimpse into the mountaineering world and how it can become an obsession to not only to climb higher but to attempt more challenging climbs as well, no matter the risk to themselves. It shows how climbers have viewed Everest over the years and the commercialization of the tallest mountain in the world. Whether one is a skilled climber or not, anyone could attempt to climb this mountain with enough money and a sherpa as your guide.
The readers also get a peek into the lives of the people that dwell on the mountain who strive to become climbing sherpas and sirdars, guiding those each year with the drive to make the pinnacle, tending to the mountain, and their beliefs regarding it. Learning about their own obsession with climbing and how they rely on each year’s small expedition window to provide a boost to their yearly income, despite the risk of death.
While reading this biography I was continually astounded. I never knew how expensive it was to try to climb Everest or how many expeditions attempted to climb this mountain on a yearly basis. That’s the keyword, ‘attempt.’ There is no guarantee that any person paying for a permit will be able to get to the top for any number of reasons, be it illness, lack of oxygen, or the weather preventing you. This, of course, doesn’t include the mountain trying to kill you herself.
With that in mind, and how dangerous you learn this expedition is, you’d think climbers would help each other and stick together more, but shockingly that is not the case all the time.
One of the things I loved about this biography, besides everything I discovered, was how the author did his best to stay unbiased. He honestly seemed to want to know what happened up there, apart from his own experience, taking into account other people’s perspectives of the events.
A small portion of readers with desires to climb Everest might find this an eye-opening read while the majority will be shocked and amazed at the details provided.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone.
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