Friday, October 29, 2010

More children's books, a lesson in Buddhism, and multiple personalities

I'm further along in Margo Chisholm's To the Summit and finished Jamling Norgay's Touching My Father's Soul. Additionally, I've blazed through a few children's books, including Steven Jenkins The Top of the World, S. A. Kramer's To the Top!, and Stephen Venables' To the Top. 

Venables' To the Top looks to be a companion work to his Summit of Achievement, but it does not focus as exclusively on the Royal Geographic Society's archives. He includes a lot more information on other climbs, including his own Kangshung Face expedition, and speaks in more plain, but not oversimplified, language. It's refreshing to read a children's book (like Salkeld's) that contains correct information, and whose author does not speak down to its readers.

Kramer's To the Top! is a retelling of the story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay and their climb to the summit in 1953. It's not a good book, with a lot of misinformation, and illustrations that improperly depict events. For example, Kramer says that they used ladders to bridge crevasses, when they only brought one ladder to test the idea, and used logs for all but the longest spans. If we are to believe the narrative, the expedition arrives at the South Col together, and then Hillary and Tenzing leave the next day from the camp higher up. Also the illustrations incorrectly depict Hillary falling into the crevasse in the Icefall with his oxygen set on, and then climbing out with both crampons, and also both men parading through Kathmandu together after their successful ascent.

Jenkin's The Top of the World is a theoretical climb that assumes the climber is on a guided expedition taking the South Col route. It talks down to the reader a bit, but over all is not that bad of a book. The illustrations are well done.

I've come around on Jamling Norgay's Touching My Father's Soul. At first the book annoyed me, but I think it's more the audio book's reader's twit-ish snobby accent (think NPR's Stephen Beard) that makes me take what's being said the wrong way. It's the first time I've listened to an audio book since high school, and it took me a while to separate the reader from the author. I really enjoyed hearing about Everest and expedition life from a Tibetan Buddhist's perspective, as well as insights into Sherpa beliefs and emotions. It's really nice to have someone separate Sherpa, the job, from Sherpa, the person, since so often Western authors represent them as something less than whole people. The book also provides an education on the Sherpa spiritual world, and several perspectives on Jamling's father and family that I have not encountered elsewhere. In addition to a Sherpa perspective the the 1996 Everest tragedy, he also provides insights into the IMAX Everest expedition. He's considerably more thorough than Ed Viesturs since it is Jamling's one Everest climbing expedition and the framing narrative of the book, whereas Viesturs covers many climbs in his similarly-lengthed No Shortcuts to the Top.

Chisholm's To the Summit really freaks me out. (Chisholm starts with my previous post.) I'm not quite finished, and not quite to the Everest part of the book, but I've already had enough of her "Inner Family:" Miggie, Martha, The White Ghost, Jonathan, God, and friends. I doubt she realizes it, but she is a really creepy lady! She gets over her drug, alcohol, and food addictions, only to become addicted to adventure travel and develop multiple personalities as coping mechanisms. She doesn't seem to realize that she's replacing one crutch with another, and it worries me that she works to become a counselor. (Chisholm continues here.)

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