Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Die Trying, by Bo Parfet

Bo Parfet comes of age in Die Trying: One Man's Quest to Conquer the Seven Summits. He overcomes dyslexia to graduate from both high school and college and becomes an investment banker at JP Morgan.  He remembers how he felt climbing Longs Peak in college and books a trip to Kilimanjaro to get away from his 100-hour workweeks. After making the top, he heads to Aconcagua and McKinley on subsequent vacations before devoting himself to climbing the Seven Summits. He decides to climb both lists, in addition to Mount Cook, Mont Blanc (perhaps to cover his bases?), the Matterhorn, Cho Oyu, and an attempt on Ama Dablam. Also included in the narrative is his participation in the Gumball 3000 road race and the La Ruta Maya boat race, as well as his journey to membership in the Explorers Club. His climbs exhibit the gamut of commercial climbing, from full-on guided climbs on Kilimanjaro and McKinley to a logistics-only (including payments for fixed ropes and summit support) ascent of Everest. He uses a range of outfitters, including Mountain Trip, Mountain Madness, International Mountain Guides, and Himalayan Guides, and even (with some difficulty) tries his own logistics for Elbrus. Die Trying, therefore makes a decent preview for the Seven Summits shopper.

He books both of his Everest climbs with Henry Todd's Himalayan Guides, both for some autonomy in his climbing and for a relatively low price. His first attempt, in the pre-monsoon season of 2005, goes poorly for several reasons, including friction between Parfet and Todd, impatient climbing, and deceptive weather. Tragedy strikes on the teams' summit attempt, and an incoming storm adds the coup de grace. His second expedition, in the spring of 2007, goes somewhat smoother. There's less information in the narrative on it, but he returns a more experienced climber (having ascended Cho Oyu the previous fall) and as a sponsored mountaineer. He brings much of his family along for the trek to Base Camp, with his parents making it as far as Lobuche. His team includes Pat Hickey, author of 7 Summits: A Nurse's Quest to Conquer Mountaineering and Life. The weather is much more agreeable for this climb, even providing a sunny and (relatively) warm summit day.

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