Friday, August 30, 2013

Against Giants, by David Lim

David Lim returns to the mountains, and Everest, after a partial recovery from an extreme form of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, in Against Giants: The Life and Climbs of a Disabled Mountaineer. Weeks after leading the successful first Singapore Mount Everest Expedition in 1998, Lim finds himself hospitalized and completely incapacitated by a rare disorder (See his Mountain to Climb for the tale of both the story of the expedition and his health crisis.). This, his second book, continues the story of his recovery, from relearning ordinary things, such as walking and feeding himself, to once again climbing mountains, though with a partially paralyzed leg and hand. He decides while still in the hospital to focus his life and career on climbing, and he works his way from hobbling to the highest point in Singapore (a hill not nearly as tall as the highest skyscraper) to climbing well on the North Ridge of Everest, Cho Oyu, and Shishipangma. Along the way, he makes expeditions to both Aconcagua and Kazakhstan, and regains much of his old strength.

His Everest experience, in 2001 via the North Ridge, was with a small team of Sinaporeans and a Brazilian, using the logistics services of Eric Simonson. They find themselves playing second fiddle to the grand search for Sandy Irvine (of 1924 fame, see Hemmleb's Detectives on Everest for their story.), including the moving of a crucial camp 300 meters higher to facilitate the searchers. Their expedition is as expected, though they face trouble on the North Ridge. Even if they do not reach the summit, he and his teammates set a Singaporean altitude record for climbing without supplementary oxygen. He is happy with the results, as they did the climb in a style that met with their aesthetic and moral standards, and they put in a grand effort.

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