Sunday, September 29, 2013

No Place but UP!, by Lance S. Fox

Lance S. Fox, veterinarian from Wisconsin, achieves the summit of his dreams in No Place but UP! An unlikely adventure, his tale chronicles his journey from a novice climber, who experienced altitude sickness climbing Colorado Fourteeners, to a determined father who shows his kids that no dream is too high. He, like several modern Everest climbers, first dreamed about climbing Everest after reading about the troubled 1996 season. A shortage of mountains in Wisconsin sends him to Colorado, Washington, and Mexico for his early mountain experiences, before he skips straight to Everest, with the blessing of Russell Brice. He also has the fortune to find a sponsor to cover his expenses for his climb with Himex in 2009, and to become a part of the Everest: Beyond the Limit television program. In addition to achieving his dream, Fox seeks to help the Sherpa people, using his talents as a veterinarian specializing in cattle to treat hundreds of yaks, both before his climb and on a return to Everest base camp in 2011. 

The climbing goes well, at least for Fox. Brice's operation, relatively new to Nepal, shows what comfort and caution can mean on the south side of Everest. They head up Lobuche Peak, rather than the Khumbu Icefall for early acclimatization runs, the route is strung all the way to the summit (including double lines for technical sections) before any paying climbers head to the top, and the climbers use three, rather than two, oxygen tanks as a norm on summit day. Fox encounters the crowds that are typical of a climb high on Everest lately, and he deals with his many fellow climbers genially, if at times nervously. He feeds on the social aspect of climbing, and makes many lasting friends among his teammates, though his climb strains one already established friendship. He also gets to meet his climbing hero, Ed Viesturs (author of The Mountain: My Time on Everest---look for a review soon!), who climbs in 2009 as a part of the First Ascent Eddie Bauer promotional climb. Fox tells his story well, and has a great attitude---a great first book and first climb.

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