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A fortunate man
on 30 March 2011
Beck Weathers is famous for not dying on Everest during the ill fated expedition that has been documented in "Into Thin Air". Left for dead by member of his climbing party, he stumbled into a high altitude camp the next morning, severely frost bitten, and close to death. He was rescued by helicopter, in itself a remarkable event and eventually recovered, all be it with the loss of hands and nose. This is a summary of the first two chapters of the book - the remaining 23 chapters deal with the time before Everest and his recovery from the injuries he sustained there.
This is an important thing to realise about this book - most of it is not about the Everest expedition itself, and the majority is not about mountaineering at all.
This is a book outlining how a man (who regularly appears to be wilfully selfish) recovers from his injuries and regains contact with his family, who he had become isolated from, or possibly pushed away.
The book is structured so that each of the main characters in the story has their say in sections labelled with their name. This book does seem to be a very honest account of how driven a man can be by an obsession, and how his wife and family can suffer as a result. The authors wife, Peach, does not spare Weathers any blushes in her account of his behaviour.
Despite the fact that Weather claims that his experiences on Everest changed him for the better, he does not always come across well in this book. He describes a climber who died on Everest as "feckless" because he made a mistake that killed him. He describes another people climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro as "amateurs", when he is a member of group who have simply paid out big dollars for the experience. Cash does not make you a professional, and when almost all of your experience has been gained on payed guided expeditions, I think it would be best to be careful about claiming "professionalism".
His recovery from his injuries is remarkable - but he is very fortunate to be alive and equally (if not more) fortunate to have his family still around him.
Many mountaineers may be driven, unpleasant men, but I have read very few books where this is so apparent. I think this is an interesting book about I charter I came to dislike - this may not be a literary conclusion, but that's the simple fact of the matter.
The book itself is not long and I would recommend it if you are interested in the way people think about mountains and themselves, but it's not a mountaineering book as such.
Proceed with caution!