This is one of the best mountain books I've read. Joe Tasker describes a number of his expeditions starting with the North Face of the Eiger and then to Himalayan climbs which put him and his climbing partners at the forefront of alpine-style mountaineering at the time. His descriptions go far beyond straight forward accounts of the climbs as Joe explores his fears and feelings, relationships with his climbing partners and his burning motivation. Together with Pete Boardman's writing, it is no wonder the Boardman-Tasker mountain literature prize was named after them. And this book is probably better than most of the subsequent winners of that prize.
My climbing has been limited to the Lake District including an ascent of Scawfell Pike. Any similarity of these strolls to Savage Arena soon vanished. This is a book of many virtues and at their core is the brilliance of the writing. Joe Tasker describes both the severe challenge, and desperate dangers, of his ascents, and the challenge to the will and determination of the climbers who put their lives at risk. He readily admits that there is no satisfactory rationale to exposing himself to the dangers. He loves mountains, he loves climbing and that in itself is enough. His writing has such immediacy that the reader identifies with him as Tasker struggles for his very life.
The reader, comfortably ensconced at home, can consider the cold, the wet, the hunger and the discomfort of attempting to sleep on a narrow ledge 1000 feet up a frozen cliff face. Tasker is an honest writer who explores his own emotional and physical frailties and sets them against the sometimes superior qualities of his companions. He loses girlfriends as he departs on climbs from which he may not return. And he examines the consequences of the life he has chosen.
This is a thrilling book and I finished in admiration for the abilities of the climber and the author.
Joe Tasker makes the hazards of climbing seem inconsequential when set against the ambitions of the climber, the dangers encountered are not dwelt upon in great detail, but the reader lives the dangers, triumphs and tragedies along with the teams. An interesting read for non climbers as it does not get bogged down in technicalities.
Fantastic first hand tale. Rarely does the truth read so well as a story. Great piece of literature and I would recommend it for anyone interested in better understanding the trials of high mountain expedition in the remote areas of the Himalayas
I have read tonnes of Mountaineering books and took me a while to pick up books by either Tasker or Boardman. It's unbelievable these tales are from so long ago but read and feel like they could be today.
The book not only grips you in to the end it keeps you in utter suspense to the end. Tasker makes you not only feel what drew him to the hills but also understand why he went back time after time.
A must read for anyone interested in Mountaineering and the beauty of the adventure and continual pushing on into the unknown