What's your favorite mountaineering books?

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Old Hickory
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by Old Hickory » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:29 pm

Scott P wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:55 pm
I just finished Left for Dead (Beck Weathers) again. I don't know why. I read it several years ago and hated it. I thought I'd read again and see if older age would change my perspective. It did. I hated the book even more.

Am I alone on this? Does anyone else dislike the book as much as I do?
I bought it in a used book shop several years ago but haven't read it. What about it did you find so distasteful?
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by AnnaG22 » Wed Mar 31, 2021 12:35 am

I'll throw another +1 to The Last Season.

Also a big fan of Into Thin Air and Krakauer in general, and I'll say this for him: if he comes off as a jerk in that or Eiger Dreams, who is portraying him that way? Oh, that's right, he is, by choice.

Viesturs' writing partner is pretty talented; I read those books whenever I'm in the mood for some koolaid.

Just read Die Weisse Spinne and enjoyed it, but definitely a particular style. It's a pity that some of the morbid puns lose their potency translated to English.

Also, and I'm sad to see they haven't been mentioned yet:

Mountains in My Heart by Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Higher Love: Skiing the Seven Summits by Kit Deslauriers.
"The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need – if only we had the eyes to see." -Ed Abbey

"I get scared sometimes—lots of times—but it's not bad. You know? I feel close to myself. When I'm out there at night, I feel close to my own body, I can feel my blood moving, my skin and my fingernails, everything, it's like I'm full of electricity and I'm glowing in the dark—I'm on fire almost—I'm burning away into nothing—but it doesn't matter because I know exactly who I am." from The Things They Carried
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by speth » Wed Mar 31, 2021 12:54 am

I’ll echo others and agree with...

Minus 148 Degrees: The First Winter Ascent of Mount McKinley - the story itself and the gumption to do it are pretty amazing, and I like the fact that it’s just a group of (mostly) local Alaska guys that make it happen. I’m not a alpinism-purist or anything, but the style in which these guys undertook their adventure is such a huge contrast to the ascents from Into Thin Air that it’s disconcerting. I will never not think of the drinking cup in the snow cave.

Second one is...

Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination - it’s got a fairly good breakdown of the ages of alpinism, human conception of high places, man versus nature. I think there’s some interesting stuff here, and I’m assuming that the research is done well; don’t know if I personally follow a lot of the thinking as part of my own outdoors pursuits/psyche, though. I saw the film “Mountain” a few years ago, narrated by Willem Dafoe, and some of the ideas and concepts really reminded me of Mountains of the Mind - lo and behold, went home and google confirmed that the book was a very large inspiration/narrative structure for the film.
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by susanjoypaul » Wed Mar 31, 2021 7:56 am

I have shelves of mountaineering books and you've probably already heard of most of them, so I won't repeat them here. But I also enjoy stories of Antarctic adventures. Alfred Lansing's Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage has always been one of my favorites. Over the past year, I've read a few more amazing tales:

The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard. Cherry was the youngest member on Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910-1913 South Pole expedition. Though Scott reached the pole, it wasn’t without significant sacrifices — including his own life. Surprisingly, Scott’s trek isn’t the worst journey referenced in the title. That honor belongs to Cherry’s winter trek, where he and two other men from Scott’s party, Edward Wilson and Henry Bowers, headed east to Cape Crozier from the party’s base at Cape Evans. The trio was in search of penguin eggs for scientific research.

Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts introduced me to Douglas Mawson, whose 1911-1913 Australasian Antarctic Expedition is every bit as fascinating as Scott’s and Shackleton’s polar trips. Like Cherry, Mawson was more interested in the scientific aspects of exploration than simply reaching a geographic or magnetic pole. Also like Cherry, he survived unbelievable hardships.

By the way, I spent some time a few years ago on my genealogy. Two DNA tests and a lot of research. Turns out that I'm related to Nathaniel Palmer, for whom Palmer Land and the Palmer Archipelago are named. So maybe all that Antarctic interest is in the blood. His great-great-great grandfather and my eighth great-grandfather were brothers, so we're fifth cousins five times removed. Pretty distant, but still cool.

I'll have to add Ueli Steck's book My Life in Climbing to the list. I interviewed him for Alpinist magazine in 2015 and he was one of the most gracious people I've worked with. Responded immediately to all my questions and requests; sent me tons of photos. Man, I wish all my interviews were that easy! An incredible loss to the world of mountaineering.
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by Scott P » Wed Mar 31, 2021 9:35 am

Old Hickory wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:29 pm
Scott P wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:55 pm
I just finished Left for Dead (Beck Weathers) again. I don't know why. I read it several years ago and hated it. I thought I'd read again and see if older age would change my perspective. It did. I hated the book even more.

Am I alone on this? Does anyone else dislike the book as much as I do?
I bought it in a used book shop several years ago but haven't read it. What about it did you find so distasteful?
The part about Everest and waking up from the dead and surviving is interesting. The book could have been much better than it was.

The part about Everest and waking up from the dead and surviving is interesting. The book could have been much better than it was.

The rest of the book is basically about mountaineers = bad people, bitchy couch potatoes = good people and about conflicts with Beck's nasty wife. If I had a wife like Peach in the book (she wrote those parts of the book so it wasn't just from someone else's perspective), and I woke up during or after the storm, I'd probably walk the other way and jump down the Kanchung Face. It is no wonder that Beck was depressed. The book is meant to show that Beck is reformed, but the real villian in the book (unintentionally on part of the writer) is his wife. She even throws a fit when one of the kids went on a camping trip in Texas and claims that one of the kids came down with HAPE High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (in Texas). The only good part about reading the book is that it makes me appreciate my wonderful wife.

Beck also tries to make the audience believe that he was some obsessed world class mountaineer, but all his climbs were guided (even Longs Peak) and he only did a few climbs. There is nothing wrong with going on guided climbs (I have been on some and won't discourage anyone from doing so), but it is still weird to make yourself out to be some obsessed climber when you just did a few guided climbs.

Presumably the book is meant for a non climber audience. Maybe they would enjoy it more. I hated the book and consider it to be one of the worst I have read. Generally I love mountaineering books. Some are better than others, but this is the only one that I hated and that actually bothered me.
I'm slow and fat. Unfortunately, those are my good qualities.
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RobbS
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by RobbS » Wed Mar 31, 2021 5:14 pm

Your description of that book is hilarious Scott!
I haven't read it, don't think I will, but I sure enjoyed your review.
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by Old Hickory » Wed Mar 31, 2021 8:29 pm

RobbS wrote:
Wed Mar 31, 2021 5:14 pm
Your description of that book is hilarious Scott!
I haven't read it, don't think I will, but I sure enjoyed your review.
Second your review of Scott's review. Hilarious, indeed.
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by timisimaginary » Thu Apr 01, 2021 5:22 pm

Scott P wrote:
Wed Mar 31, 2021 9:35 am
Old Hickory wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:29 pm
Scott P wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:55 pm
I just finished Left for Dead (Beck Weathers) again. I don't know why. I read it several years ago and hated it. I thought I'd read again and see if older age would change my perspective. It did. I hated the book even more.

Am I alone on this? Does anyone else dislike the book as much as I do?
I bought it in a used book shop several years ago but haven't read it. What about it did you find so distasteful?
The part about Everest and waking up from the dead and surviving is interesting. The book could have been much better than it was.

The part about Everest and waking up from the dead and surviving is interesting. The book could have been much better than it was.

The rest of the book is basically about mountaineers = bad people, bitchy couch potatoes = good people and about conflicts with Beck's nasty wife. If I had a wife like Peach in the book (she wrote those parts of the book so it wasn't just from someone else's perspective), and I woke up during or after the storm, I'd probably walk the other way and jump down the Kanchung Face. It is no wonder that Beck was depressed. The book is meant to show that Beck is reformed, but the real villian in the book (unintentionally on part of the writer) is his wife. She even throws a fit when one of the kids went on a camping trip in Texas and claims that one of the kids came down with HAPE High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (in Texas). The only good part about reading the book is that it makes me appreciate my wonderful wife.

Beck also tries to make the audience believe that he was some obsessed world class mountaineer, but all his climbs were guided (even Longs Peak) and he only did a few climbs. There is nothing wrong with going on guided climbs (I have been on some and won't discourage anyone from doing so), but it is still weird to make yourself out to be some obsessed climber when you just did a few guided climbs.

Presumably the book is meant for a non climber audience. Maybe they would enjoy it more. I hated the book and consider it to be one of the worst I have read. Generally I love mountaineering books. Some are better than others, but this is the only one that I hated and that actually bothered me.
looking at your 2021 Goals posts, i think i understand why you dislike his wife so much.
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by Scott P » Thu Apr 01, 2021 8:07 pm

timisimaginary wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 5:22 pm
looking at your 2021 Goals posts, i think i understand why you dislike his wife so much.
It doesn't seem that she even tried to share (or support) anything Beck enjoyed. She also intentionally didn't take her birth control so she would get pregnant (without Beck's knowledge). When one of her kids did something outdoors in Texas she bitched again. Basically everyone who wasn't a couch potato is evil. I can't think of any part of the book that she wrote that wasn't whining or complaining. Yes, I didn't like her at all.

My wife comes with me much of the time. When she doesn't it's her quiet time. She's a sweetheart.
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by Scott P » Thu Apr 01, 2021 8:12 pm

RobbS wrote:
Wed Mar 31, 2021 5:14 pm
Your description of that book is hilarious Scott!
I haven't read it, don't think I will, but I sure enjoyed your review.
I was totally serious with my review.
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by timisimaginary » Mon Apr 05, 2021 10:44 am

Scott P wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 8:07 pm
timisimaginary wrote:
Thu Apr 01, 2021 5:22 pm
looking at your 2021 Goals posts, i think i understand why you dislike his wife so much.
It doesn't seem that she even tried to share (or support) anything Beck enjoyed. She also intentionally didn't take her birth control so she would get pregnant (without Beck's knowledge). When one of her kids did something outdoors in Texas she bitched again. Basically everyone who wasn't a couch potato is evil. I can't think of any part of the book that she wrote that wasn't whining or complaining. Yes, I didn't like her at all.

My wife comes with me much of the time. When she doesn't it's her quiet time. She's a sweetheart.
it's been a while since i read that book, so i don't remember a lot of the details. from my vague memory, he got into mountaineering a bit later in life, after they were already married and had kids, and became pretty obsessive about it. he had a typical male chauvinist attitude of being the breadwinner while his wife stayed home and raised the kids, and his obsession meant she was left more and more with those burdens while he went on months-long trips and did whatever he wanted the rest of the time (he was also a workaholic and i remember him talking about training so obsessively that he would injure himself or make himself sick, but wouldn't let it stop him from training). basically i got the impression that she married one person, and he changed into another person, and neither of them handled it very well. he was secretively making climbing plans and signing up for trips without telling her, and she was lashing out as a result, so it was a really unhealthy relationship that both shared the blame for. it happens, people change, and sometimes those changes make formerly compatible couples become incompatible. and that's why there's a thing called D-I-V-O-R-C-E, which probably would've been the inevitable ending if he hadn't nearly died on Everest and given up climbing.
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Re: What's your favorite mountaineering books?

Post by Scott P » Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:46 am

timisimaginary wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 10:44 am
it's been a while since i read that book, so i don't remember a lot of the details. from my vague memory, he got into mountaineering a bit later in life, after they were already married and had kids, and became pretty obsessive about it.
That's what the book wanted to protray, but Beck only climbed something like ten mountains in his entire life (all of them guided). I call BS on Beck trying to protray himself as a obsessed mountaineer. That's why I said that the book is for a non-mountaineer audience. I can understand why she wouldn't want him to go to Everest, but Beck spent very little of his life climbing.

As far as leaving the kids at times; this is true; but Beck wasn't ready for kids, they agreed not to have them at the time, and his wife intentionally stopped taking birth control without Beck's knowlege.

Peach also freaked out when one of her kids wanted to go on a school trip to the mountains of West Texas.

She would also whine and complain when they were at Estes Park that going on hikes wasn't a family vacation. She could have at least tried to go on a hike with the kids and her husband (or even the kids). She mentions that she had to sit alone in Estes Park because she was bored. Beck no doubt also handled it poorly. Beck also handled it poorly. He should have tried to take his wife and kids with him and incorporate them into the activities.

My impression of her is that she didn't even try to share in Beck's hobbies and interest. She could have tried to incorporate her and the kids lives into them.
he was secretively making climbing plans and signing up for trips without telling her, and she was lashing out as a result, so it was a really unhealthy relationship that both shared the blame for.
I agree.
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