Monday, September 6, 2010

Mt. Everest: Confessions of an Amateur Peak Bagger, by Kevin Flynn; page 81

While this has been one of the most entertaining amateur ascent books I've dipped into so far, it is also at times a peek into Everest culture at its worst. The detail about hearing water flowing under the rocks below the base camp tents during warmer weather is an amazing scene setter, but it grates my sense of sportsmanship and egalitarianism to hear a guide from another expedition tell him to "have a Sherpa bring up your down suit" if the weather warms between camps II and III, and it is by my standards pointless to put your life and others in danger so that you can feel good about putting another check on the list. The writing style is punchy and fun, but Flynn occasionally wanders from the everyman into the absurd, such as clarifying for the reader what "the shits" is and saying that his iPod was the most important piece of equipment he brought to the mountain. I feel a slight sense of connection to this author because he and my wife both lived in Rochester, NY, and he and I both took our future wives for their first climb up a rock slide peak in the Adirondacks. Other than his quirkiness and the water under the tents bit, I think the only really new thing he  has brought so far to Everest literature is his second person perspective, with "you" do this, and "you" acclimatize in this manner, acting very much as a personal tour guide to future amateur climbers. Next time, we'll be getting into some climbing!

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