Sunday, December 27, 2009

Climbing Mt. Everest

No, I'm not talking about my to-be-read pile (although that's a serious contender in size). It's Sunday night, and on the Discovery Channel they are running a marathon of "Everest: Beyond the Limit." If you've got even a passing interest on this famous mountain and those determined to scale it, check out Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. This riveting book is about the tragedy on Mt. Everest in 1996, which the author was witness to. It spotlights the incredible lengths these climbers go through to scale the mountain, and the very high costs of that goal.

Also, if you want to inject some mystery into Everest, check out the story of Mallory and Irvine. I have not read any books on the topic, but there are several books mentioned in the Wikipedia article that sound interesting (if I do read one of these, I will post an update). George Mallory and his companion Andrew Irvine may have reached the summit of Mt. Everest years before Sir Edmund Hillary's successful attempt, but they disappeared in the attempt. In 1999, Mallory's body was located, but only deepened the mystery. Check out the Wikipedia article here.

And, if you're still in the mood to read about more mountain disasters, you can check out Alive by Piers Paul Read. This book (and the movie of the same name) covers the 1976 Andes plane crash in which the survivors were reduced to cannibalism for survival before they were rescued. I have not read this book, but it is on my list for 2010.

Now that we're on to mountain disasters and cannibalism, let's go to the more recently released The Indifferent Stars Above by Daniel James Brown. It recounts the tragedy of the infamous Donner Party and is getting great reviews. I have this book on loan from the library and should be getting to it in the next few days, so check back for a followup.

If anyone has anything to add to this list or has read any of the books mentioned in the Mallory Wikipedia article, get over to the comments section and let me know. In the meantime, I'll be staying somewhere near sea level sipping some nice warm hot cocoa.


  1. I will definitely second Into Thin Air as being a good read.

    I'd also recommend Joe Simpson's Touching The Void (covering the author's near death experience climbing in the Peruvian Andes)

  2. Ooh I will have to check that one out, thanks AM! Can't find it in ebook, but I'll keep an eye out for it at the library or the bookstores :D