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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everest - the Venables Way - and so much more., 30 Oct 2007
The positive reviews on the dustjacket about a previous book (see them on this Amazon site) indicate his stature as a writer. Although a slow reader, I have read this fine new book of 352 pages in under two days: at every opportunity - constantly delighted with the clarity and enthusiasm of his writing. Venables presents a range of activities, not just climbing; his life and the book are all the richer. Climbers, armchair and outdoor, as well as non-climbers, should find much of interest. His modesty is welcome; mistakes and doubts increase adventure - and suspense. The many successes are not inevitable. His playground widens rapidly from England to the Alps, then Asia and South America. Everest starts at page 274, with a detailed and lively narrative, good to read even when you already know his 1989 expedition book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 28 May 2009
By 
J. Carr "jackcarr7" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Stephen Venables was born too late to have the chance of being in the `Golden Generation' of British climbers such as Brown, Bonnington, Whillans, Scot and Haston, but deserves his place in the pinnacle of British climbing talent. His story follows the general blueprint of climbing autobiographies, the author finds himself in love with rock and wants to test himself, at first in the Alps, and later the Greater Ranges. Venables specialised in first ascents of mountains generally between 7000 and 8000m and tended to shy away from the most popular ranges for much of his career, instead focusing many climbs in the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan and India.

The book follows his fascinating journey, and the narrative is exciting and downright fun, a perfect balance between life and climbing, touching on the age-old problems of finding employment which was convenient enough to allow him to climb, and funding expeditions. The books climax takes place on the committing Kangshung Face on Everest. One of the last unclimbed routes on the world's tallest mountain, Venables reaches the summit alone and late in the day, forcing him into an open bivouac in the Death Zone, one of the highest ever survived.

Venables writing style is perfect for this style of book. He never makes himself out to be a superhuman climber who has conquered danger in the world's high mountains, and you know instantly he is doing it for the love of the very actions of climbing, and the freeness of the mountain environment. Towards the end he makes a poignant reference to his son Ollie, the only known child in the UK to be diagnosed with both autism and leukemia, saying that he is a not a hero for conquering the mountains he climbs, but Ollie is the hero for his quiet suffering.

Venables has written many books which cover his trips in more detail, such as Painted Mountains and Alone at the Summit, all of which are very much worth reading. However for a record his life and career, as well as an insight into the man who's humility has endeared him to me completely, this is a must read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A climbing classic, 20 Aug 2010
This review is from: Higher Than The Eagle Soars: A Path to Everest (Paperback)
As a huge fan of Joe Simpson and Jon Krakauer writing, I have to admit to adding another name to my list of "must read's".

Stephens's honest writing and humour shine through; the disappointments self doubt, accidents and self effacing thoughts topped off with a fantastic personal achievement make this book one of best climbing narratives I have read. Its more about a journey than the destination, but aren't we all on that journey ?
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than a mountaineer, 13 Oct 2009
By 
J. Hicks "johnxvet" (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Higher Than The Eagle Soars: A Path to Everest (Paperback)
Stephen Venables is, by this account, lucky to have survived to the age where he can describe himself as a writer first, and a mountaineer second. Readers who are keen mountaineers, or followers of this genre should not hesitate to indulge themselves in yet another mountaineering book. However, Higher Than The Eagle Soars will also appeal to those who appreciate good writing and bouts of intellectualism between the thrills and spills.
This was my first taste of Stephen Venables' writing and I am keen to sample more, particularly for insights into the mindset of top mountaineers. The courage, dogged persistence, driving ego, selfish attitude towards personal relationships - these are all there, honestly presented and explored. As to what drives these men (and women)? The answer remains tantalisingly beyond reach. That's why we armchair mountaineers keep getting sucked in!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Venables Soars, 30 Sep 2010
By 
K. Midgley - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Higher Than The Eagle Soars: A Path to Everest (Paperback)
More than a mountaineering book, this is a rounded autobiography, and I ended up thoroughly liking the author. He doesn't spare himself, admitting he isn't the easiest person to be around when things don't go to plan, but one rather suspects that with his tendency to irreverent humour and self-deprecation, you wouldn't fall out with him for long.
If there was a quibble, it was that some of the climbs are almost skirted over, where I wanted more of the gritty detail.
The book does, however, finish with one of the most gripping and revelatory accounts of an Everest ascent i have yet read: the description of his first-hand experience of the effects of altitude are incredibly interesting. Now, all the other stories of death and survival in the "death zone" i've read make a lot more sense!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What next?, 29 Dec 2009
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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I believe that as a climber, a mountaineer, and an author Stephen Venables excels in all these activities, as demonstrated by his lifetime of risky but rich adventures, and by recognition via various literature short lists and as Grand Prize Banff Mountain Festival and Boardman-Tasker Award winner - though my only `personal' contact is being in the audience for one of his lectures on the Kangshung Face of Mount Everest where he came across as a `natural' raconteur. Also I have some understanding from reading other earlier books, but prior knowledge of his epics and exploits is not necessary to appreciate `Higher Than The Eagle Soars' - an autobiography published in 2007 embracing Stephen Venables' life up to him being the first Briton to succeed on Everest without oxygen in 1988, from initial introduction to rock-climbing and mountaineering on numerous trips within Britain, the Alps, the Himalaya and South America - some not previously appearing in print. No universal answer is possible on `why we climb?' yet the author thoughtfully presents his personal views, and he describes dramatically how he experiences excitement and exhilaration with control and fear intertwined. Avoiding either overt exaggeration or covert self-deprecation Stephen Venables tells a tremendous tale, and he does so with much humour. This is a `warts and all' autobiography that underlines Stephen Venables' skills and courage - but with large doses of luck, but also it exposes his obsessive and selfish nature with solo distractions from team objectives. The sub-title of `Higher Than The Eagle Soars' is `A Path To Everest' and triumph on the Kangshung Face is portrayed as the ultimate endurance test for which all previous adventures seemed to be preparation. I am aware of further expeditions in the Himalaya, South and North America, Antarctica etc - (example: `A Slender Thread' published in 2001), but after the momentous Kangshung Face achievement `Higher Than The Eagle Soars' says nothing apart from reference to a short outing in Wales as a `Postscript'. What a pity - or will there be a sequel covering later years? I'm holding back a `star' in anticipation - hence 4-star rating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the book, read the book., 1 Sep 2013
This review is from: Higher Than The Eagle Soars: A Path to Everest (Paperback)
This is not only a book about mountaineering, but also the life that surrounds such high endeavors and the reasons that Mr Venables is moved to undertake them. It is a joy to read, a story that is written with a depth of insight and observation that is often missed in the more granite style of mountain literature.
I found it an inspiring and descriptive journey told, one that has the capacity to encourage you to undertake your own assents, be they of rock and ice or metaphorical. One that reminds you that the hardships and struggles that we all face in life - Mr Venables included, can be overcome with humility and understanding. That there is joy and wonder, even in most unlikely of places. That there is still magic in this world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read, 23 May 2012
This review is from: Higher Than The Eagle Soars: A Path to Everest (Paperback)
The climax of this book is a riveting re-telling of Venables's epic 1988 ascent of a new route up Everest, complete with solo oxygenless bivouac at 28,000 feet. Gripping stuff. But, as Ranulph Fiennes says on the jacket blurb, what makes the book really interesting is the journey that took Venables to Everest. Some of that journey - like the beautiful Kishtwar-Shivling ascent first described in Painted Mountains - will be familiar to many readers; but there is also lots of new material, from a lyrical depiction of early childhood climbs to one of the best accounts I have ever read of the North Face of the Eiger - a joyful, exuberant antidote to the angst-ridden hype that usually clings so stubbornly to that famous wall. I loved too his account of guiding a bunch of eccentrics up the three highest peaks of Africa, and accompanying the whacky John Blashford-Snell to Tibet. Venables clearly enjoys his climbing. But there are also moments of failure, disappointment and self doubt. It's nice to see that top mountaineers have the same human weaknesses as the rest of us.
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4.0 out of 5 stars well Written, 3 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Higher Than The Eagle Soars: A Path to Everest (Paperback)
An atmospheric romp through the mountains of the world on a path to being the first British person to climb Everest without oxygen.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 17 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Higher Than The Eagle Soars: A Path to Everest (Paperback)
Another amazing mountaineering book and well worth buying. Stephen Venables takes you on a personal journey into his time and experience as a climber. I've read lots of books on this subject and although I am not a climber, it always amazes me the great lengths people go to, to reach the top of the world. The thing I get out of reading accounts like these, is the tremendous human strength and spirit you can have when it comes to achieving your goals and the journey it takes to get you there.
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Higher Than The Eagle Soars: A Path to Everest
Higher Than The Eagle Soars: A Path to Everest by Stephen Venables (Paperback - 4 Sep 2008)
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