Peter Austen muses over a life of climbing in Rocky Horrors, Frozen Smiles: A Climber at the End of His Rope. He writes of his development as a climber and travels, from British crags, to the Alps, on to the Canadian Rockies, and beyond. This is a short, humorous work, in which he highlights climbing's ironies and amusements without losing focus on the difficulties and dangers also involved. His climbing covers the gamut, and he writes about rock routes, classic Alpine climbs, aid climbing, ice climbing, mixed, and expeditions. His narratives often are as much about his ropemates as they are about the climbs, and he drives home that most climbing is a shared experience.
Austen includes a chapter on his Everest expedition, which he led in 1991. He refers the reader to his book, Everest Canada: The Climb for Hope, for details on the expedition, and writes mostly on the joys (or lack thereof) of high-altitude personality conflict. Choosing climbers who will work together at altitude for weeks or months is extraordinarily difficult, and Austen regrets the infighting in his expedition and the loss of one particular friendship. He is grateful, however, that only relationships, rather than climbers, were among his expedition's casualties.