Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Wind in My Hair, by Brigitte Muir

Brigitte Muir finds peace and strength during her climbs of the Seven Summits in The Wind in My Hair: An inspiring account of one woman's dream, and how she made it come true. She writes of her development from a woman drawn to the dark places of caves and the shadows of strong men to an independent and inspiring climber who sets out and achieves her dream. From her home in Belgium, she seeks out the world and ends up falling in love in and with Australia, marrying and climbing with Jon Muir. After he finally climbs Everest (See Sorrel Wilby's Beyond the Icefall.), and she makes some early forays into the Himalaya (Shivling, Hidden Peak), Muir declares that she will climb the Seven Summits. As an underemployed climber dedicated to her sport, she faces similar financial challenges to Pat Morrow (See Beyond Everest), but without the cachet of having already climbed the world's highest mountain. She lands sponsorships and works farm labor to pay for her trips, but at times (sometimes for years), she has trouble getting together the cash for the bigger climbs. She ultimately guides someone to the summit of Vinson (while still paying many of her own expenses) before landing a dedicated and interested group of sponsors and promoters for her Everest trips.

Muir, like her husband, has a rough relationship with Everest, making several attempts before finally making it to the top. She tries on the North side in 1993 and 1995, and again from the South in 1996, before her success from the South in 1997. She climbs under Jon Tinker and OTT in '93 and '95, along with Pat Falvey (See his Reach for the Sky.), her husband, and several others. She runs into unfortunate circumstances high on the mountain during both her summit attempts in 1995, and returns without a summit. In 1996, she opts for Henry Todd, and gives a much rosier picture of him and his operation than other climbers, even on the same permit (See especially Ratcliffe's A Day to Die For.) Todd does run out of supplies for a second attempt (or is it third), however, and sends his team packing while other groups are reaching the summit. Her record of events on the South Col during the May 10/11 disaster are considerably more lucid than other eyewitness accounts. Her 1997 climb, under Team Ascent, goes well when she finally makes it up during a late weather window.

This is my favorite (so far) Seven Summits book, as Muir clearly uses the quest as a journey rather than a checklist, works in some humor, and writes eloquently about her inner self and her experiences. Her climbing life is quite a bit more than the continental high-points, and her development as a person and a climber kept my interest throughout the book. Highly recommend!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I am very excited to let you know that I have finally self published my autobiography " The Wind in my Hair". You can purchase it online at my brand new Beyond the Smile Shop.
    You also have the option to gift it! And it is only US$ 5.95!

    Forwarding this to anyone you feel would love reading it will also help support Beyond the Smile Project and Documentary (