Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Will to Climb, by Richard Harris

Richard Harris writes about his climbs with his son, Christopher, including their quest for the Seven Summits and their attempt on Everest, in The Will to Climb. Christopher starts his climbing life early, becoming the youngest climber to scale Mount Cook, at 13, in 2002. Father and son climb together, working on higher and more technical mountains with an eye towards Everest. Sponsorship gets them to Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, and Aconcagua, before landing a last-minute gift that covers enough to get them, and a film crew, to Everest in 2006. Harris writes about his Everest experience in a diary-style, with daily entries and a blow-by-blow of events. Much of the narrative focuses on the author's experiences, though it's clear he has high regard for his son. Fate is not so kind to father and son on Everest, but their high-altitude cameraman, Lincoln Hall (originally famous for his 1984 Everest climb chronicled in White Limbo), gets the chance of a lifetime to climb to the summit with a cadre of their team's Sherpas. Ultimately, their team is but one of many dramas that Abramov's Seven Summits Club expedition faces, with deaths of climbers and near misses by others.

Hall, of course, has a great climb to the summit, but faces cerebral edema, madness, and seeming death on the trip back to high camp. (See his Dead Lucky for a first-person perspective.) Harris' team had the foresight to tape the radio traffic after things started getting out of hand, and he provides transcripts of the
English-language radio messages between the summit, Advanced Base Camp, and Base Camp. The story takes an odd twist as they discover that Hall is actually still alive the next day, but they are already on their way home, as they had planned on his safe return and being back to travel with them. Also, they had already informed Hall's family of his death, and had to contact them once again.

I was hoping to discover the further adventures of Christopher Harris online after reading this book, but alas, I'm out of luck. The youngest yet did manage to scale the Seven Summits in 2006---20-year-old Danielle Fisher. Jordan Romero would later, in 2010, climb Everest at 13 and finish his Seven Summits at 15, when all the red tape was cleared to get him to Vinson, in Antarctica. (See Katherine Blanc's The Boy Who Conquered Everest.)

No comments:

Post a Comment