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.
If you are looking for inspiration for your next climb, or just wondering in awe at the achievement of the author, you can`t do much better than this book; a big, glossy, attractive hardback filled with very beautiful pictures taken from some astounding viewpoints, and filled with complementary text that will inform and entertain.
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!
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.
This is a classic mountaineering book. It is a great celebration of Alan Hinkes's life and achievements. Just the fact of what he has done, and come back from is amazing.
This book is superbly produced and photographed. It's worth the cost for the photographs alone. The hardest thing with Himalayan views is to work out the scale of the view. The photographs in this book are excellent and vivid.
Hinkes emerges as a likeable character- with a mixture of determination, ambition and judgement, and an ability to turn luck to his advantage on occasion. The text is sufficient to tell the story, and how he achieved his goals. It doesn't tell us much about what his internal drivers are- and I suspect there's a good biography or autobiography that could come from understanding these.
This book will delight those of us who climb mountains form the Peaks and Peninnes all the way up to the 8000m giants. I hope it's a Christmas treat for many walkers and climbers.
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.
I don't climb mountains. I'd like to but to be honest the thought of climbing the stairs is more than enough for me. I would love to climb mountains but living in coastal Britain they are a bit of an endangered species really. Instead I had the opportunity to see the top of the worlds highest mountains from the comfort of my own sofa with Alan's beautiful book.
The photographs in this book are simply stunning, the one on the cover that's not even one of the best. Gorgeous blues, whites and pinks are expertly captured to create beautiful images which draw you in. Often I found myself not concentrating on the text as my eyes were continuously drawn to the photograph again and again. When I did manage to tear my eyes away the text was as engrossing as the pictures.
The book charts Alan's quest to become the first British climber to climb the 14 highest summits in the world in possibly the worlds most impressive Peak bagging escapade. As a non climber it was great to be able to read the book without having to stop and Google technical jargon every few sentences. The book is designed as a coffee table type publication but the excellence of his writing and the subject matter make it a book you want to read from cover to cover. This led to an unfortunate incident whilst attempting to read in bed which led to a black eye and concerned friends asking me if everything is ok "at home"...
The book now graces our coffee table and never fails to merit being picked up and read by any visitors we have. I can only surmise that this book would be an absolute must read for those interested in climbing and an eye opening journey into a world most of us will never have the privilege to see.
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