Getting high

Latest obsession: Mt. Everest. I think this is my 3rd period of intense interest in Mt. Everest and mountain climbing. It seems to crop up every ten years or so. Here are some notes on what I've been up to:

A quick list of books, with spontaneous annotations:
  • Everest: The West Ridge, by Thomas Hornbein (story of the 1963 expedition where Willi Unsoeld lost his toes--um, and also they were successful in an historic assault on a new part of the mountain)
  • Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer (first person account of the awful events of 1996, trying to tease out the mysteries and facts of what went wrong to who when)
  • High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places, by David Breashears (written by the guy who filmed the IMAX movie of Everest, describes his various climbing & filming adventures)
  • Nanda Devi: The Tragic Expedition, by John Roskelley (sad story of how Willi Unsoeld's daughter dies on mountain after which she was named)
  • Addicted to Danger: A Memoir About Affirming Life in the Face of Death, by Jim Wickwire and Dorothy Bullitt (terrible things happen wherever Wickwire goes, but he stubbornly keeps climbing)
  • The Mammoth Book of Eyewitness Everest, edited by Jon E. Lewis (gives a lot of useful background; snippets of accounts from many years' worth of Everest expeditions... from 1913 to present)

Books still to find:
  • Reinhold Messner's book about his solo ascent of Everest
  • Dr. on Everest, by Kenneth Kamler (also about what happened in 1996)

Movies & tapes:
  • Everest IMAX movie (filmed by Breashears and others in 1996, it's still spectacular even on a small TV)
  • Michael Palin: Himalaya (one can't go wrong accompanying the adorable Palin on his many and sometimes bizarre adventures)
  • The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mt. Everest, by Conrad Anker and David Roberts (I've been listening to the audio version of the book about the 1999 expedition that found George Mallory's body on the North face of Everest)

Other interesting people from the 1996 debacle:
  • Beck Weathers--the fellow "Left for Dead" in 1996, who wrote a book with that title
  • Araceli Segarra--first Spanish woman on Everest, she's apparently also a foxy model
  • Ed Viesturs--mountain man climbing guy

Websites which may or may not have more info about Mt. Everest:

What I've learned from all this:
Lack of oxygen, vicious winds and bone-chilling cold do terrible things to the human body. These tend to exist on large mountains. I plan to avoid them if possible. Although it would be cool to see Everest in person... just from the bottom. I see that the Geographic Expeditions is going to Everest from 3 different directions next year. The Nepali trek is only about $3000. Hmmmm.

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