Sunday, September 15, 2013

High, edited by Clint Willis

Clint Willis presents a grand collection of writing from the two highest mountains in the world in High: Stories of Survival from Everest and K2. Willis has a talent for picking good moments of exciting stories, and chooses a lot of winners in this book. In his introduction, he gives a brief history of climbing Everest and K2 for the uninitiated, which should do to give this stories some context. His excerpts are a pretty good size (from ten to thirty pages) and have a nice focus to them, whether presenting Matt Dickenson's summit climb on Everest, or Ed Webster's nightmarish descent of its Kangshung Face. Willis' K2 material includes excerpts from Houston and Bates' Five Miles High and The Savage Mountain, Bonatti's On the Heights, Galen Rowell's In the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods, Rick Ridgeway's The Last Step, and Jim Haberl's K2: Dreams and Reality, and well as the articles "Bad Summer on K2," by Krakauer and Child and "The K2 Mystery" by David Roberts.

For Everest, Willis picks a good set. Smythe describes his attempt, in 1933, to climb alone below the Northeast Ridge, after leaving a sick Eric Shipton behind at their tent in Camp Six. Doug Scott and Dougal Haston tell of their 1975 climb, from the Rock Band on the Southwest Face to the summit and back (including a bivouac at the South Summit), in Everest the Hard Way. Brummie Stokes describes the progression of his frostbite injury, leading to amputation, in Soldiers and Sherpas: A Taste for Adventure. Chris Bonington and Charles Clarke tell of their waiting in vain for the return of Pete Boardman and Joe Tasker from their climb of the Pinnacles of the Northeast Ridge in 1982 in Everest: The Unclimbed Ridge. Alan Burgess and Jim Palmer describe the first tragedy to strike the Canadian team in 1982, with an avalanche striking climbers in the Khumbu Icefall, killing three Sherpa in Everest Canada: The Ultimate Challenge. Maria Coffey tells of her experiences in Lhasa and Xigatse on her way to Everest with Hillary Boardman to pay respects to their lost loves in Fragile Edge. Ed Webster escapes the Kangshung Face in 1988 with two of his team, in Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest. Matt Dickinson has a difficult climb to the summit in 1996, even in great conditions, after the tragedy of May 10/11, in The Other Side of Everest. I'm Highly grateful that there are no accounts of the 1953 summit climb here. While I'm a sap for Hornbein's account of 1963, it's a bit over-excerpted, and not here either. Thank you, Clint Willis.

Willis is also the author of The Boys of Everest: Chis Bonington and the Tragedy of Climbing's Greatest Generation, and the editor of Climb: Stories of Survival from Rock, Snow and Ice, Epic: Stories of Survival from the World's Highest Peaks, and Epics on Everest: Stories of Survival from the World's Highest Peak.

No comments:

Post a Comment