International Man of Mystery...

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I grew up in the Boston area and lived there until my junior year in high school when I attended the Mountain School, a semester program run by Milton Academy in Vershire, VT. I then attended Colby College in Waterville, ME. During my time at Colby I studied anthropology, spent a semester in Northeast India, and became fluent in Nepali. Before I became a guide I earned my black belt in kenpo karate and taught karate for 6 years. I began guiding in college on the rocky coast of ME with Acadia Mountain Guides and on ice at the International Mountain Climbing School in NH. After graduating I took to the highway and drove from ME to WA for the big mountains and glaciers. I spend my winters in lovely Ouray, CO guiding in the famous ice park. I am currently working towards becoming a certified guide through the American Mountain Guides Association. I live, work and play in the hills and on the rocks. On the rocks both literally and, well, with ice.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: One Mountain Thousand Summits

This is a great book. I don't usually read mountain literature. I usually find the often repetitive bravado a major turn off. However, Freddie Wilkinson has achieved something different. In this book Wilkinson brings his own himalayan climbing experience and years within the climbing community to try to decipher what actually happened on K2 in August 2008. At the same time, this book is an analysis of the international climbing community. Wilkinson explores out the opportunities and drawbacks for climbers from all over the world from the Netherlands to Korea, Nepal, the US etc. resulting from the interconnectedness of the international climbing community through social media and the internet.

Wilkinson, drawing from ethnographic sources and in person interviews, presents Sherpa perspectives on 8,000-meter climbing and the K2 disaster that, despite Sherpa's presence on virtually every 8,000-meter expeditions is often ignored.

Climbing can be so complicated and technical, authors writing about climbing often struggle to make their work readable by climbers and non-climbers alike. Wilkinson masterfully renders the complex events of August 1-2, 2008 in a way anyone can follow. Unlike classics like Into Thin Air, The Climb, and other portrayals of disaster relying on pathos rather than analysis, One Mountain Thousand Summits combines personal experience, journalistic even-handedness, and a healthy dose of self awareness that is absent form most climbing literature. If you want to get a handle on not only the K2 disaster but also how the international climbing community functions or if you simply want a well written, gripping piece of mountain literature, this book is phenomenal.

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