Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Longest Climb, by Dominic Faulkner

Dominic Faulkner writes about his team's journey from the Dead Sea, the lowest point of land on earth, to the top of Mount Everest in The Longest Climb: The Last Great Overland Quest. Faulker and five others bicycle from the Dead Sea through Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Tibet to Everest Base Camp before picking up their ice axes and joining a team of climbers for an attempt on the peak. On their 8000-kilometer journey, they are supported by a driving team of two, along with a tide of unexpected support from local citizens and a mixture of support and harassment by government officials. They make their journey in the winter and spring of 2006, and arrive to climb during one of Everest's most controversial seasons. They are preceded in their bike journey by Gerry Winkler, who attempts the same adventure only weeks earlier, though he attempts Everest from the south and travels unsupported. Their experiences with the local populations during their trip turns many cultural stereotypes on their head, and they encounter a number of surprises in Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan. I appreciated Faulker's proportional coverage of their bicycle journey in relation to their climb, something I felt was missing in Goran Kropp's Ultimate High, also a bicycle trek / climbing story.

Their climb on Everest brings some rare good news from the 2006 spring season in Tibet. Other books, such as Nick Heil's Dark Summit or Michael Kodas' High Crimes document everything that went wrong in 2006 and make it seem as if every climber on the mountain that season was some sort of criminal. Even Lincoln Hall's Dead Lucky is a tale of near-death and mortification and Mark Inglis' Legs on Everest is soured by the media controversy over his climb. Faulkner's team, though they do have some interpersonal conflict, gets along well enough to get several climbers to the summit. They render assistance both to a stricken climber near the summit of the North Col and gather some effects for the family of a fallen climber near the summit. The narrative becomes more personal on Everest, and Faulkner wavers in his decision to climb to the summit after some recurrent health problems from his last attempt on Everest in 2000 with the British SAS. This is a fun book. I'll let you read it to find out more!

No comments:

Post a Comment