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The Mountains of My Life (Modern Library) [Paperback]

Walter Bonatti , Robert Marshall
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 May 2001 Modern Library
Published for the first time in English, The Mountains of My Life collects the classic writings of world-famous mountaineer Walter Bonatti, and tells the real story of the 1954 controversy over the events on K2 that changed his life.

Bonatti is one of the greatest mountaineers of all time, a man who continually reset the benchmark of human possibility by ascending routes that others dared not even contemplate. He climbed with an audacity and panache that epitomized the purest spirit of alpinism, and inspired an entire generation of climbers. Jon Krakauer calls him one of my heroes. He is not only a mountaineer of astonishing talent and vision, but one of the world's most engaging writers about mountaineering.

Bonatti has also been dogged by controversy and often been at odds with the climbing community. The Mountains of My Life not only collects the best of Bonatti's writing telling of adventures in the Alps, the Himalayas, and little-known South American peaks it also tells Bonatti's version of what really happened on the Italian expedition that made the first ascent of K2 in 1954. Bonatti's selfless actions helped avert disaster, yet in the expedition's aftermath he found himself cast as a scapegoat. Part detective story, part hair-raising adventure, part meditation on his craft, The Mountains of My Life is as awe-inspiring and controversial as its author, and is beautifully illustrated with Bonatti's own photos.

Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc; Modern Library Ed edition (4 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037575640X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375756405
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 996,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Walter Bonatti was born in Bergamo on June 22, 1930. As a young man he dedicated himself to extreme alpinism, and from the age of 19 to 35, he became an expert climber. In 1954 he played a vital role in the success of the Italian expedition that achieved the first ascent of K2. After 1965 Bonatti gave up mountaineering, turning to photojournalism for the Italian magazine Epoca, and travelling to remote places. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving on up with Bonatti 26 April 2003
Bonatti takes us on a roller coaster ride of his most audacious and awe-inspiring alpine adventures. You feel the bone-chilling bivouacs and the mind-blowing exposure of his most creative climbs, many of which were done solo and in the finest alpine style.
This book is a must read for collectors of the genre and anyone interested in alpine history. From the humourous but life threatening hitting of his thumb whilst hammering in a piton on the first ascent of the Whymper Spur, to his tortuous arrival at the Gamba hut after the tragic sequence of events on the Central Pillar of Freney during which four climbers perished - it is all told in a human and compelling way.
In the final section of the book there is a detailed analysis of the K2 controversy which is disected from every angle, from the ascent of the mountain to the ensuing court case ten years later. These chapters for me were a little dry but formed a contrast to the previous alpine adventures. However, this shouldn't put anyone off reading such a thought provoking book about one mans achievements and life adventures. One is left in no doubt that Bonatti was the most accomplished and prolific alpinist of his era.
He has a great story to tell and he forces you to keep turning the pages, as, in his life not only was he stalked by controversy but whilst 'on the heights' he seemed to be a magnet for storm and bad weather.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bonatti recounts his exploits in the mountains. 4 April 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a classic read from one of the greatest mountaineers in the history of climbing. All his major climbs are recalled by the man himself who gives vivid and poetic accounts superbly translated by Robert Marshall, a friend of Bonatti. Bonatti's account of his 1984 climb of Mont Blanc is particularly beautiful, revealing the spiritual dimension of the man. The book gets bogged down for a few pages when Bonatti attempts to clear his name regarding the events of the 1954 K2 climb, but his reasons are understandable and he reveals himself as a man of great integrity. One of the best mountaineering books I've read. The man is a legend.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fair play prevails 23 Jan 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
With its budget paperback binding of The Modern Library Exploration Series this book appears small - but it is immense - physically at almost 500 pages in length, and spiritedly telling a big, big story from one of the greatest mountaineers of all time - Walter Bonatti. His dedication to extreme mountaineering life set new standards yet spanned a mere 16 years from 1949 when as a teenager he climbed the NE Face of the Piz Badile (not NW as publication) until stepping down in 1965 after an audacious solo winter ascent of the N Face of the Matterhorn. Bonatti climbed continually in the Alps between these dates with first ascents including the E Face of the Grand Capucin and the SW Pillar of the Dru, plus in the Himalaya and South America. His traditional yet aspirational approaches were full of passion and almost innocence, and though this attracted respect and fame he was also attacked by some with envious agendas. In addition to early controversy arising from the first ascent of K2 Bonatti was criticised over his tragedies with fatalities of companions in the mountains, eventually leading to his `early retirement'.

All these elements and many more are embraced by `The Mountains of My Life' and readers will live through Walter Bonatti's triumphs, excitement, joy, suffering, fear and despair. Aware he was regarded by commentators as somewhat masochistic, even deranged, Bonatti acknowledges in his Preface how his career is studded with highly dramatic episodes, but points out how many wonderful ascents were completed without incident and with tranquil mind. Set in the post Second World War years there is a historical significance throughout with explanations on rudimentary gear/techniques, but more importantly with reference to emotional elements and degenerating ethics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bonatti is a hero to many mountaineers. This collects writings about many of his greatest exploits - Bonatti pillar, epic on central pillar of freney, Bonatti Zapelli route on Grand Piler d'Angle. Plus an exhaustive run down on the ins and outs of the infamous K2 affair. Tremendous. He makes the climbing itself sound easy - wish it was for mere mortals!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 28 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A really interesting book that looks into a selection of snippets throughout his life, rather than concentrating on one specific climb or adventure.

It's exciting, harrowing, moving, and inciteful.

Well worth the time to read it.
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