Saturday, March 16, 2013

Seven Second Summits, by Kammerlander & Lucker

Hans Kammerlander climbs the second highest summit on each continent in his and Walther Lucker's Seven Second Summits: Uber Berge um die Welt. The book features a great mix of climbs by one of the world's greatest alpinists, whether fighting to get to the top of K2, out for a veritable stroll to the summit of Ojos del Salado with a non-climbing friend, or stomping through days of mud on the approach to Puncak Trikora. I love that the first to make these climbs was a professional climber, rather than an amateur adventurer (see Dick Bass' Seven Summits), as Kammerlander does a great job focusing on the mountain its environment during the narratives. I also like that each of the mountains seems to have an obstacle or difficulty that made their chapter interesting, whether the bureaucratic logistics surrounding Dychtau, the company he keeps on Tyree, the vast summit plateau of Logan, or the messy weather on Mount Kenya. It's a fun book to read, assuming you read German, as Kammerlander is clearly out to enjoy these climbs rather than stomp through them on some sort of mission (excepting Tyree, perhaps). I actually enjoyed reading most the stories of his two shortest mountains to climb, as Puncak Trikora got him the furthest out of his element (including his cook showing him how to climb), and Tyree was bound to be a mess when he teamed up with a bitter rival, since both needed each other if either were to afford to make the climb.

Though this book has very little to do with Mount Everest, I've been waiting for someone to make these climbs and write this book for a long time (14 years, to be exact), ever since I read Greg Child's half-joking comment, in Postcards from the Ledge, that the second highest summit of each continent would actually pose a greater challenge than the Seven Summits. The bits about Everest do add some flavor to this book, such as contrasting the vast emptiness of his Mount Tyree base camp with the circus surrounding Everest, and the controversy over whether he actually finished the list after descending Tyree actually being greater than media frenzy over his 1996 "incomplete" ski descent of Everest. Also, Christian Stangl, in addition to being a thorn in his side over the second summits, claims to have beaten Kammerlander's record ascent of Everest by climbing from the Tibetan ABC to the summit in 16 hours, 42 minutes, a time Kammerlander states is 2 minutes slower than his. I'm amazed these two climbed Tyree together without coming to blows.

1 comment:

  1. For a book that focuses on Kammerlander's 5 trips to K2, read his "Am seidenen Faden."