Books are possibly the best way to have an adventure in the comfort of your own home. While not as visually stimulating as movies, books allow you to delve into the depths of your own imagination, creating a world that you can explore on your own terms. This is the writing technique used in this book written by Joe Simpson, a mountain-climber who found himself in a sticky spot with his friend during an expedition that was, by all appearances, supposed to have been a walk in the park, so to speak.
The plot of the book follows Simpson and his friend and climbing partner Simon Yates as they summit a mountain in the Andes. Tens of thousands of feet into the air, disaster strikes as Simpson plummets into a canyon. Yates is unable to save his friend and returns to camp, forcing Simpson to survive on his own for a time. While Simpson struggles to stay alive after managing to survive the fall and breaking his leg, Yates deals with the guilt of having left his friend behind.
We often forget that adventure books are about more than just the events that are occurring. The adventure itself is exciting, that much is for sure, but books are more than that. They are also about how these adventures end up changing the main characters. The events that take place need to resonate on a personal level.
This book is a story of survival, a story of determination, but, most of all, it is a story of how friendship can survive in even the most harrowing of circumstances. Things get even more exciting when you realize that the book is based on a true story, with the events in question actually happening to the author himself! The first thing that stands out about this book is the twin narratives that interweave throughout the plot.
One narrative involves Simpson attempting to heal his broken leg and survive on the meager rations that he has with him, all while attempting to weather the impossibly difficult conditions of the Andes Mountains. These are conditions that usually kill people even if they are fully prepared. All Simpson has is his wits and experience, as well as a certain amount of luck. This narrative is a heart-pounding experience to say the least.
The manner in which Simpson gathers his courage and attempts to make it back to camp is truly astonishing, and you also get to learn a lot about how truly dangerous trekking and other mountainous activities can be. You learn about equipment and how disaster situations can be properly managed with a clear head. We have all read, seen or heard about incredible stories of survival.
This is one of the great stories of human survival that one can get into because it offers such a gritty account of how mind-numbingly terrifying it can be to be perpetually on the verge of death. However, it is the second narrative that truly elevates the book and prevents it from becoming just another swashbuckling adventure story. This narrative involves the secondary protagonist, Yates.
Yates manages to make it to safety, so you don’t get much straightforward action during these scenes. However, you do get to experience a picture of immense grief and regret. Yates and Simpson are great friends, but, more than that, they are climbing partners. This means that they are always supposed to have each other’s backs. They are supposed to get each other out of sticky spots. Yates being unable to do so makes him feel very guilty indeed, and it is very interesting to read about how he copes with his guilt.
The true tragedy of his situation is that now that he is back at camp, he needs to start thinking about heading back to family life. This is perhaps even worse than leaving Simpson behind in the first place. He believes his friend is dead, and now he has to head back and tell all of the people who loved Simpson that the man is now dead. This is not something that everyone gets to experience, and the author manages to portray the tumultuous mental journey in a way that is poignant without resorting to maudlin histrionics to convey his point.
It is the juxtaposition of these two stories that makes this book one of the best adventure books that have been released in recent times. One of the protagonists has to survive the elements, while the other has to survive the much more relatable torture of not having been enough to save someone that he loves. When the two friends are finally reunited, we get to experience one of the most beautiful scenes that I have read, period.
Simpson’s trek back to camp leaves him facing not just the cold and a lack of rations, but immense loneliness as well. He knows that he does not have a lot of time left before the camp heads back to civilization, and if he misses his window all of his struggles will have been for naught. Hence, he has to contemplate the idea that even if he manages to beat all the odds and somehow pull off a miracle, there is still a strong chance that he won’t make it back home. His ruminations are a beautiful example of how the human mind works.
This is a story of suffering, friendship, guilt and, above all, hope. We live in a day and age where we are all quite comfortable, and yet we often have to face our demons, and this book is a beautiful illustration of this. As Simpson tries to survive, he has to deal with regret when he is faced with the notion of dying. In this manner, the emotional journeys that each of the protagonists goes through are not all that different from one another. Suffice it to say that this is a book that you should buy as quickly as you can!
Gripping Adventure Book
Human beings have a burning desire to explore the world around them and discover as much as possible. It is this thirst for knowledge that has allowed our species to progress as much as it has, but it also tends to take us into uncharted territories where survival is no longer guaranteed. Geographically speaking, the poles are some of the most dangerous places in the world because they are so inhospitable to human life. Hence, explorations there are inevitably going to be filled with peril.
Ernest Shackleton was one of the earliest men brave enough to head to the poles for exploration. In the year 1914, Shackleton took a crew of his most courageous men in an attempt to map out this area. The journey was harrowing to say the least, but thousands of miles in, Shackleton and his crew found themselves only a day’s journey away from the pole itself.
This is when things became truly dangerous. Their ship becomes trapped in ice, and, no matter how hard they try, the crew of the ship find themselves unable to break free. They find themselves at the mercy of nature, and we all know how cruel of a mistress it can be. The ship remained trapped for ten months as the crew barely survived off of their quickly dwindling rations before it broke apart completely.
It is at this point that Shackleton takes his crew on a last, desperate attempt to travel nearly a thousand miles in a makeshift vessel to the nearest outpost where they might finally find salvation. You can already understand why this book is so exciting! Alfred Lansing manages to capture the fear that these men experience in the most accurate way possible, but, to top it all off, he creates a truly sympathetic and complex character for Shackleton.
This is a man who has made a bold decision, and this decision might end up costing two dozen men their lives. He is responsible for these men, and, suffice it to say, he takes this responsibility very seriously indeed. One thing that makes this book so incredible is the ensemble cast. Each member of the crew has a detailed character that they conform to. The relationships between the crew members make the story even more interesting.
When you think about it, a lot of this book has the potential to be very boring indeed. After all, these men spend about ten months drifting in the middle of nowhere. Tensions rise, men start to die, and they need to show the ultimate courage: not losing hope. It is really pleasing that Lansing chose not to focus entirely on Shackleton and provided significant depth of character to the other members of the crew as well.
This really helps bring the story to life, and helps highlight the themes that are present throughout the narrative. One theme that remains particularly prevalent is the nature of fate. Are we doomed to our fates or do we have the ability to change it if we so wish?
If one were to look at things deterministically, Shackleton was destined to end up there, and, if this was the case, he was destined to die. And yet, die he did not, and he managed to save most if not all of his men. In this manner, the book suggests that we do have the power to take our fates into our hands. We are the masters of our own fate, and this is a lesson that we can apply to our everyday lives. Chances are that the vast majority of us are not going to be stuck in life-threatening situations.
Still, we all have our own small daily struggles, many of which are quite significant in the long run. This book can inspire you to believe in yourself. One thing I particularly loved about this book was how Shackleton is not overly confident in himself. He has doubts, he feels the weight of the responsibility on his shoulders, and above all else he makes mistakes.
In essence, he is a human being just like the rest of us, and what matters most of all is that he does not let his doubts and mistakes get the better of him. Instead, he takes responsibility for his actions and does the right thing. This book is the perfect portrait of the indomitable human spirit, the very thing that makes us able to face our challenges every day and come out the other side. Published by Basic Books.
If you look at the world of extreme mountaineering, few figures cut as impressive a figure as Ed Viesturs. This man has climbed no less than fourteen peaks, each higher than eight thousand meters. This book recounts each of his climbs and talks about how he felt as he attempted to become the highest man in the world time and time again with courage that was almost otherworldly in its veracity and indomitability. One thing that surprises about this book is how good of a writer Viesturs is.
His accounts are far from the braggadocios, self-aggrandizing narratives that we often see from men of his stature. Instead, he presents his accounts in a humble manner, choosing to simply describe the events that transcribed, as opposed to attempting to inflate his legend with hyperbole and dramatic license. We also get a glimpse into the mind of the sort of person that would do this. It takes a fair amount of determination to attempt feats of this nature, but we often forget that there is a cost to this sort of thing.
While mountaineering is surely Viesturs’ true and only passion, he has a life outside of it as well. A wife, children, parents, friends, Viesturs is surrounded by people who love him, and these people are naturally afraid that he might never come back after one of his trips. Viesturs speaks poignantly about how he manages to navigate the treacherous waters of guilt and fear every time he goes on an expedition.
The thought of his loved ones often made him cautious, so much so that he would turn back after going up halfway because he could not be sure that the climb was as safe as he previously thought it was going to be. However, this does not stop him from being bold, because his loved ones understand him and know that this is just something that he has to do. One thing in particular that stands out about this book is how it does not romanticize the dangers of mountain-climbing.
Viesturs does not think that he is better than anyone else for doing the things he does. Nor does he think less of anyone who would not attempt such things. He does not think that he is changing the world. Nor doing anything more significant than what we do in our day-to-day lives. One thing that we can glean from this book is that Viesturs climbs these mountains. In an attempt to overcome his own mortality. Though he does not romanticize the notion of danger. He does speak quite candidly about how the notion appeals to him as an individual.
We all want to feel like we are beyond the trappings of our mortal flesh. We want to be able to live life in a manner that would allow us to rise above our limitations. When Viesturs reaches each peak, he feels truly alive. He feels invincible, like he has conquered the world. And through this book we are able to get a glimpse of that mindset and how it must feel to be, quite literally, on top of the world.
Climbing the World
Along with being quite enjoyable to read Viesturs’ descriptions of the immense natural beauty of these mountains. It can be argued that these are some of the most beautiful places in the world. For there is no other place that can be as wild and free as they are. It is clear from Viesturs’ narrative that he respects nature and the dangers it poses as well. He looks at himself as a guest in these mountains and comports himself as such.
While this book may not be the sort of narrative adventure that some might be used to. It is still for all intents and purposes an adventure book. One can say this without a shadow of a doubt because it tells the accounts of one of the greatest living adventurers. The sort of person that inspires films and works of literature that try to emulate the sort of things that he does.
It is for this reason that this book is a must read. When you start reading it, you are going to have a pretty tough time putting it down. You can be sure that you will be recommending it to someone. Nearly as soon as you finish reading the final page. Our next travel and outdoors reviews are on the Best All Terrain Truck Tires and Best Truck Tool Box.