Learning To Breathe Paperback – 2 Mar 2006
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"A tale of split lives fused into one extraordinary story of adventure, laughter, tears and joy" (Joe Simpson)
"A brilliant book, well-written, gripping, honest and very moving" (Chris Bonington)
"Andy Cave's compelling autobiography is, like Joe Simpson's Touching the Void, a gripping book on mountaineering that will appeal even to those who didn't know they were interested in climbing ... Fascinating" (Observer)
"Enthralling ... Cave's elegant writing draws on the congruence between mining and climbing, the black humour, the danger, the camaraderie ... Excellent" (Independent on Sunday)
"The story of Andy Cave's transition from Yorkshire coal miner into one of Britain's best climbers echoes the heroic tones of Don Whillans or Joe Brown ... Thoughtful and often gripping ... Cave explains what it actually feels like to climb the kind of exceptionally dangerous routes that the rest of us, climbers or not, find unimaginable. There are few other climbers with the writing skills to be able to pull this off. There are fewer still who have led such an interesting and varied life as Cave" (Scotland on Sunday)
Joint Winner of the Boardman Tasker Prize 2005 and Winner of the Adventure Travel Award - Banff Festival 2005
The extraordinary autobiography of a brilliant young climber who began life as one of the last generation of British miners.
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There's highs, lows, and laughs by the barrel load. I loved reading about his time in the Barnsley pits as much as about the actual climbing itself. I also learned alot about the early 80's mining strikes and how it shattered and split his community (i'd have been only 5 years old at the time). The life in the pits blends nicely into Andy's true aspirations of mountain climbing including a little romance along the way with a Woman that obviously left her mark on Andy. Finally we lead to the expedition up Changabang, which scared the hell out of me. I now know the vast difference between general climbing and elite technical climbing and needless to say I won't be doing what Andy does in a hurry! All the characters in the book are described extremely well by Andy in that you almost feel part of the family or climbing team, which leads to despair and a even a few tears when getting towards the books conclusion (a little like the film 'Deer Hunter' - Where the Characters are grown to the degree that you feel a personal bond with them, even though you don't know them. Then your emotions are taken through the mill as tradegy looms.
It would take a brilliant author with a lot of imagination to write ficition as good as this, but the amazing thing is - This is a true story!!
Hats off to Andy!
From Lee - Chesterfield, Derbyshire
The second half deals more with his mountaineering, as he leaves the pit and follows his increasing love of rock climbing into the World's mountain ranges. The climbing part is somewhat underwhelming and only covers 3 major expeditions, on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, Gasherbrum IV (which is essentially a chapter on the boredoms of sitting out bad weather at base camp) and Changabang. His climbing of the North Face of the Eiger merits a sentence (he was the youngest Brit to do it, which he doesn't even mention) and ascents of world-famous peaks such as Ama Dablam are totally overlooked.
In many ways the story would have been better split into two books. The mining part is so engaging and could have taken up a book alone, while he covers a tiny percentage of his ascents, and I feel he doesn't give himself enough credit as a climber. I have noticed that Cave has a new book out which I hope will feature more of his mountaineering career.
Worth it for the first half alone (I am recommending it to my father based on this) but if you're looking for a book totally about climbing, this probably isn't it. If you're looking for a fantastic autobiography about a boy, then man, rising from the depths to the heights, quite literally, then look no further.