Tag Archives: Mountaineering

The Push

As the possessor of an active imagination, I’ve already read books and thought how cool it would be to live the story, imagining myself in it or doing something similar. Not often do I really wish to have that life. However, reading Tommy Caldwell’s book definitely woke something different in me, and while I don’t want all his experiences, I do wish I had the freedom and money and talent to climb whatever whenever.

I first heard about Tommy Caldwell in 2014, when he and Kevin Jorgeson climbed the Dawn Wall in Yosemite. And even though that was something I only knew about from a friend, I followed the last half closely, and when I found out Caldwell was going to write a book, I awaited its release with lots of excitement.

In The Push, Caldwell talks about growing up outdoors with his family, doing challenging climbs and mountaineering feats with his dad at young ages. He relates his experience of being a hostage in Kyrgyzstan and how that affected his life for years after, and how, in a way, it led to his passion/obsession with the Dawn Wall.

Caldwell’s story is one of perseverance, if nothing else. He dedicated seven years to the Dawn Wall, unable or unwilling to give up without successfully completing it. Nestled inside his honest, somewhat cavalier writing are some quality truths about failure as a tool to inspire greater success.

I appreciated his honesty as well in regards to how various things in his life truly affected him. Caldwell uses his book as a means of reflection, admitting that he doesn’t have all the answers and that his choices may not always have been stellar. But his honesty prompts a feeling of self-reflection in his readers, or at least in me.

Even though, having followed the climb as it happened, I knew how he story ultimately ended. Yet the book is so much more than the story of climbing the Dawn Wall, it’s the story of how Caldwell developed a need for the Dawn Wall, and how upon completion, he understood what was behind the need.

It’s an exciting, fun, and funny read. And whether you climb or don’t climb, it’s worth the time.

Paths of Glory

I’ve seen Jeffrey Archer’s books all over our store and always was interested in reading one. So I’ve been trying to keep Paths of Glory at the top of my to-read list.

Paths of Glory is a historical fiction book about George Mallory, a mountaineer in the early 1900s whose dream was to conquer Mt. Everest. This may sound like a spoiler, but it isn’t (it’s on the back of the book): Mallory died on Mt. Everest in 1924, and no one really knows if he made it to the top, though he made it within 600 feet of the top.

Archer takes creative liberty with the story and begins with a young George Mallory who climbs everything in sight, simply because it is there. Archer narrates Mallory’s life through his school and college years, through romance and climbing adventures, before focusing in on the final years when Mallory’s obsession with Everest became a reality.

Mallory made two excursions to Everest, and three times attempted to reach the summit, promising to place a photograph of his wife at the summit once there.

According to Archer’s rendition of the story, when Mallory’s body was discovered on Everest in 1999, no photograph of his wife was found in his wallet, which could suggest that he and his partner had, in fact, reached the top.

The one thing I felt was missing from this book was a historical note at the end that explained where the lines between history and fiction were crossed in Archer’s story. For example, did he really climb several national monuments in his travels abroad (and get arrested for it)?

In any case, it was a thrilling read and I’m glad I made a point to keep it at the top of my list, and I’m more interested now to explore his other work, even if it isn’t about mountaineers.