Friday, September 3, 2010

The Crystal Horizon: Everest-The First Solo Ascent, by Reinhold Messner; page 80

Lots of Everest books have historical lead ups to the author's climb, but Messner's is not only better written than most, but also keeps my interest in two ways. First, he weaves the history of early British attempts that have direct relation to his planned route (future Everest writers take note!) into his own preparation story, thereby making the necessary preparation storyline less of an effort to get through. While writing about the biggest and least interesting effort of any Himilayan climb (making it to the mountain), he avoids too much prattle, but is sure to leave in the juicy bits that make him sound suave and heroic. It must be nice to be Reinhold Messner; he successfully obtains permits for his solo climb of Mount Everest by the West Ridge from the Nepalese government and by the North Ridge from the Chinese both less than a year ahead of his scheduled departure. Chris Bonington, eat your heart out. Secondly, he includes a lot of pictures from the early expeditions interwoven into the text---something, like climbing Mount Everest solo and without oxygen, that only Herr Messner could get away with in 1980. The pictures provide a perspective that I have not yet seen of the early expeditions, and they reinforce in my mind's eye the amazing accomplishments of these driven pioneers. Also appreciated is his detailed account of Maurice Wilson's suicidal solo attempt in 1934. One of the best yet I have read within a book about a later climb! (Messner continues here.)

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