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ON THE RIDGE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH: A CLIMBING LIFE RE-EXAMINED. David Roberts Hardcover
By Roberts, David
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2005. 432 pp, photos. More than a few readers will think of John Krakauer's Into Thin Air as they delve into this bracing work. The connection isn't surprising, since Roberts has served as a mentor to Krakauer. Hardcover, New with Dust Jacket. Remainder mark on bottom edge.Throughout his life, Roberts has been an avid climber as well as a vocal advocate for the sport, writing over 15 books, many of them on mountaineering. This volume finds him looking back at the entirety of his climbing experience.

It opens with his recounting the horrific 1961 fall of his high school friend and climbing partner, Gabe Lee. In spite of this tragedy, Roberts continues to climb and slowly becomes what other climbers call a 'hard man,' an unsentimental mountaineer who can block out tragedy and focus on getting to the top. In appropriately rugged prose, Roberts details his increasingly dangerous ascents as he begins to pioneer new routes on various Alaskan peaks.

In one of the best chapters, he tells the story of his team's 1965 climb of Mount Huntington, a 'slender triangular pyramid' nine miles southeast of Mount McKinley in Alaska, and their 'giddy celebration' upon reaching the top. The feeling doesn't last, though. As they descend, one of the team falls off a narrow precipice with just a 'scraping sound, and a spark in the night.'

This balance of joy and terror is what makes Roberts's book such an exhilarating read and an intense appraisal of a life spent on the edge.

Review

The most extraordinary climbing memoir I have read. The eternally damnable question -- why climb, and is it worth the risk? -- is at the forefront of Roberts's personal investigation. His answers may trouble, and inform, all climbers.' -- Greg Child

David Roberts continues to write award-winning books and articles that are published worldwide. He made several pioneering, significent first ascents in Alaska including the Wickersham Wall on Mt McKinley, Kachatna Spire, East Face of Mt Dickey, etc. He co-authored with Bradford Washburn the magnificent book, Mount McKinley, The Conquest of Denali and is in 2006 ghost writing Ed Viesturs story of his 8000 meter climbs.


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