on 30 October 2013
This is Alan's first book, but he is already a well-known contributor to climbing magazines and to many publications such as the Alpine Journal. He has developed a narrative style that is essentially accessible and easy to read, without being at all condescending or verbose. He has the knack of making us sweat with fear at the seeming certainty of a horrible death, and then cheer out loud at the incredible achievement of not only summiting, but most importantly descending safely, against all the odds.
He is totally underrated as a photographer and high-altitude film-maker, but he will now hopefully receive the acclaim he deserves, as the illustrations are superb. Many would be suited to a larger format to bring out all the details. (He does generally have poster-sized prints to sell at his live presentations.) I am stunned that he managed to take such photographs at an altitude where most climbers are desperately concentrating on just trying to breathe, and to put one foot in front of the other, without plummeting to their doom. Taking shots of himself often involved balancing the camera on a rock, downclimbing again, then re-ascending, painstakingly checking the shots each time, and repeating as necessary: an arduous task in often dangerous and difficult conditions. 'Gnarly'!
Paragraphs about specific subjects of interest, including such widely varied topics as 'Dealing with Death' and 'Roseberry Topping' are inserted between the chapters describing the ascents, and this design feature makes it, perhaps, a book to dip into rather than devour instantly from cover to cover - though actually it can be rather hard to put down. In a nutshell, a beautiful book by an amazing guy, don't know why he hasn't received a knighthood for his achievement, why has he not had more recognition: but as he says, he's most proud of being a Yorkshireman!
on 10 October 2013
I received this book this morning which is a gift for my alpinist boyfriend. I want to say not only was it delivered earlier than expected and well boxed, it is also after browsing through a beautifully written book with stunning photography and I know he is going to be thrilled with it. Thank you
on 25 August 2015
I'm sure other reviewers will do a more comprehensive review of this great book, but wanted to at least say it was well worth the money. I bought for my mother, who loves mountains, and reading about them. I chose this book, and she was thrilled with it. She said the quality of the photos were so good, she felt as though she was there, and they were all beautiful. Hinke's accounts of his climbing journeys were also detailed which made his stories very interesting. My mother thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
Alan Hinkes has put together a book with great narration and excellent photographs. I have read quite a few books on mountaineering, one of my favourites being about Everest and the Himalaya but many of them lack the full colour photographs that help place you there from the comfort of your living room.
What I like about this book is the 'matter of fact' writing and the general humbleness of the author. There is no grand standing or boasting, he tells it as it is and backs it up with some really impressive photographs. Dare I say that this is what I would have expected from a Yorkshireman, my grandfather was just the same. It also typifies the kind of 'real mountaineer' he is and not someone that pays to be carried to the top for a fee.
The other point to note is the photography. They are not all quite the picture perfect ones we would expect from say the National Geographic. Many have a sort of gritty candid realism, less posed and formulated especially those with with a human element in them. When you consider it is the same person standing behind all these photographs you can only be impressed with his tenacity and drive to put himself there.
Did he do this all because 'they are there' or is he just a little crazy?
Reading this book doesn't give the answer to the drive that took him to the top of so many peaks but what it does show is a self effacing ordinary man doing something very extraordinary. No he can't be ordinary, far from it but I reckon if you met him down the pub he'd rather be talking about the cricket score than going on about his own exploits.
I recommend you give this a go.
I can only add to the consistent praise for this book, it is a superb read as well as containing some of the best, and best presented, mountain photography I've ever seen. What I particularly like about the prose is that it isn't full of jargon but takes time out to explain some of the technicalities of high altitude climbing which I suppose is fitting in a book such as this, which is surely aimed at an audience consisting of more than the mountaineering cogniscenti. If anything the excellence of the prose is a drawback in a strange way as it is so well written and quite frankly rivetting that it is a bit clumsy trying to read it in such a large format book. You are hardly going to take this with you on your daily commute after all yet unlike most "coffee table" books the story is as important as the amazing pictures so i would only wonder if the are any plans to release a perhaps expanded text only edition. I for one would buy it.
on 31 December 2013
This book is quite incredible and a stunning account of what is unquestionably a herculean achievement by the author. It was difficult to put the book down after receiving it as a Christmas present.
I have since found myself looking further into available material about the author and related accounts of climbing these mountains and it is quite saddening that in our culture today someone can become more famous for appearing on some mind numbing reality TV show, than someone like Alan Hinkes who took 18 years to undertake this quest. As he mentions in the book, more people have travelled into space than those that have conquered these inhospitable mountains.
Alan Hinkes should be a household name and a recognised British national hero.
If you want to learn more about self sacrifice, extreme determination, personal loss, managing risk (and risk taking), self control and humility all complimented with some breathtaking images, then buy this book.
on 4 November 2013
Great book, fascinating insight into the mind of someone who clearly set off to see if he could achieve just 1 or 2 8000m peak, and without realising it then climbs them all.
Alan admits throughout he's often been in the right place at the right time to take advantage of conditions, but as he often points out there is no easy 8000m peak.
My only slight grumble (and i'm from Yorkshire) is that often Alan goes on about 'true yorkshire grit'. It's irrelevant where you come from, the achievement is the point of the book and i'm sure he would have achieved it had he been born elsewhere. It's a small point in an otherwise great read.