Aug 4, 2014

Within Reach

My Everest Story
by Mark Pfetzer and Jack Galvin

This guy starting climbing some serious mountains when he was only thirteen years old. He was the youngest to summit Mount Pisco and Huascaran in Peru at fourteen, summited Aconcagua in Argentina when he was fifteen then went on to climb Everest, summit Mount Rainier and Ama Dablam in Nepal the same year and returned to Everest and tackled Kilimanjaro in Africa when he was sixteen. And those aren't the only climbs he did. It's a pretty amazing thing.

And a very engaging book to read. It reads like it's pulled straight out of his journal. Snippets of this and that, first impressions, little stories about other people he's met, glimpses of his family and most of all the climbing. Why he does it. His motivation, his meticulous preparations, his focus on safety and physical conditioning, the necessity of finding sponsors and how he got people to back him. All the time and effort that go into preparing for each climb. Once again I was reminded of the sheer mass of everything - distance travelled, heaps of gear, collection of people supporting or coaching or carrying stuff for others, the back and forth up the mountainside to acclimate, the huge force of it all for one last push to get just a few people to the top. And the many who don't make it. Very sobering. I can understand the thrill and drive that makes people climb mountains like Mark did, but I would never ever do it myself.

He made it very clear that it was his desire to climb mountains, that his parents only let him go because he prepared so strictly, that he studied a lot on the road and in camps to keeping up with his schooling. That it was his will and hard work that got him there. I found quite interesting his ideas on what advantages young climbers might have over older climbers who carried more experience, and also the different view of things when near the end of the book Mark was acting as a guide and support to a wealthy family who paid someone to get them up a mountain, instead of working hard to prepare themselves. In the book Mark often mentions his dreams to become a medical doctor, but it seems he is now an inspirational speaker.

It's an interesting, vivid and quick read. Got me thinking of all the other mountain-climbing books I've heard about and would like to read sooner rather than later.

Rating: 3/5      224 pages, 1998

more opinions:
Everest Book Report

1 comment:

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I would never do it myself either! I like being toasty warm and comfy and lots of books to read and delicious foods to eat. The mountain-climbing life is not for me.