Thursday, July 18, 2013

Conquering Mount Everest, by Jackie Glassman

Jackie Glassman writes for young readers a short introduction to the world's highest mountain, focusing on the 1996 disaster, in Conquering Mount Everest. It's another rough throw-together of a book on Everest, with some good information, and some bad. How can a book with a author, an editor, and a content consultant get so many details wrong? The Mountain Madness and Adventure Consultants team didn't climb the South Face of Lhotse (as cool as that would have been---see page 19). Down suits normally worn on Everest aren't designed to protect against -100 degrees Fahrenheit. Sherpas are not born skilled climbers, nor did they move to Khumbu to be near Everest, the home of their gods. Mani Rimdu is not a dance that seeks protection for safe climbing. George Mallory did not lead the 1921 reconnaissance of Everest, nor any of the other early climbs, and his body was not found in 1996. The youngest climber as of the publication of the book (2002) was not six years old, nor do I hope that anyone will ever drag such a young child to the summit. Reinhold Messner is Italian, not Austrian. Hans Kammerlander is fast, but he didn't climb Everest in under seven hours. Though people suffer from lack of oxygen up high, it's the air pressure that's so low rather than the amount of oxygen. I could go on, but this is getting boring.

Incongruously, the tale of the 1996 climb goes fairly well. Using nearly half the pages of the book, it tells of the summit day, and the difficulties faced by the climbers, such as long lines at the Hillary Step, an unfortunate storm, and ambitions overriding safe judgement. We meet Krakauer, Hall, Hansen, and Breashears in the prose, and Weathers and Fischer in the photos. Plenty of folks die in the end. Yea! I'm not certain that if you didn't know the story already, that you'd have a good grasp of what was going on based on this telling, but the facts used for 1996 are mostly good. 

1 comment:

  1. I stand corrected! George Everest sighted Peak b in 1841, which later was changed to Peak XV, and then again to Everest years later.