Monday, October 28, 2013

Off Peak, by Patricia Glyn

Patricia Glyn writes of a much happier, later South African climb of Everest than the fraught 1996 expedition, in Off Peak: The Discovery Everest Expedition Diary. Her team, or rather the team she covers, heads to the Nepal side of Everest during the 2003 pre-monsoon anniversary season. Deshun Deysel returns, along with Sean Wisedale, Mark Disney, and a collection of climbers, a paramedic, and Glyn. They get off to a good start, make contributions to the stringing of the route, and are fortunate to have a somewhat average and uneventful climb of Everest, though with a surprise ending.

It's Glyn's writing, however, that makes this book worth the read. Though stuck in Base Camp, she makes the most of things with good humor and a some friendliness/nosiness with the other expeditions on the mountain. Her writing is deliberately un-adventurous, jokingly calling nights on the mountains "sleepovers" and commenting on the many ironic joys of the grand pastime of high-altitude mountaineering. She turns a relatively mundane (for Everest) Everest climb into a gem of the literature with her off-kilter style.

Even if they managed to get someone to the summit, this is not the expedition in which Sibusiso Vilane made his first climb of Everest. He summited as a part of the Jagged Globe commercial operation. See his To the Top from Nowhere for details on his climb.

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