Last Monday after escaping the rookie trap I wound up at the Charlotte Main Library looking for some new adult non fiction. I went up the stairs on to the 2nd floor and walked by the table where I had met Himalayan Photographer Jeff Botz in early April 2001(within a few weeks of that meeting with him I was sitting on a Pakistani Airlines flight headed for Kathmandu listening to him try to describe to me what we were about to see in the highest mountain range in the world). Just past that table the New Non Fiction books are on display with most of them cover facing forward. The one that jumped out right away was Lincoln Hall's Dead Lucky. I recognized the Author's name from the radio in late May of 2006 when NPR reported that this Australian had died at 28,000ft after summiting Everest(not really Everest but Qomolangma-Mother Goddess Earth to the Tibetans and Sagarmartha-The stick that churns the ocean of existence to the Nepali, the border between the 2 goes right over the top of the mtn) on the North side but the next day was found alive at that 28,000ft By Dan Mazur who was on his way up with 2 paying clients. At that point Dan Mazur gave up on his team's try for the summit just under 1,000ft from where he had found Lincoln Hall alive and then organized the rescue that saved this Man's life.
As I was listening to this amazing report coming from Chinese occupied Tibet I was blown away because I had met Dan In Febuary of 2004 when he and Pemba Sherpa(the 1st female Sherpa person to stand on top of Everest-[she died in May of 2007 on L'Hotse Face]) came to Charlotte to give a slide show at the local outfitter. While in town Dan and Pemba stayed with Jeff's girlfriend Judy and before they left to continue their slide show tour I was invited to a sort of dinner party held at Judy's house. The Cajun theme with a fishless dish set aside for me was sort of intimate considering the company. Dan Mazur, Pemba Sherpa, Jeff Botz, Steve Hisco(local mountaineer), Alan Picard(who went with my last trip to Orizaba 18,411ft), Judy and I. It was a nice night and when the dinner was being cleared from the table I looked at Dan who was sitting on my left and I asked him what was the worst thing he had every seen in his mountaineering career. I think what I was digging for was something atmospheric or related to the steepness of a slope, I never gave consideration to what he was thinking about but yet I wanted this experienced man's answer. He thought for a minute, then turned to look into my eyes and said, "Bill, the worst thing I have seen is death." He then went in to it, the story of when one of his American clients had accidentally stepped off of a big face into the abyss in Nepal(I cannot remember if it was Everest for certain). The guide and trip leader's responsibility to the real things that need to be done in that situation is hard to comprehend. He talked about having to document the immediate circumstance as best as he could, then he had to get off the mountain to notify the family and get back to Kathmandu to meet the next of kin coming to claim the dead climber's personal effects. Although I was not expecting such a sad worst thing to have seen on a mountain, Dan Mazur's honesty and emotional connection to what he was talking about taught me something that will stick with me for the rest of my days and travels to near and far away mountains.
All those thoughts were running through my head as I took the book off the shelf and checked it out with the library's new automated scanning system. I had no expectations during the read, I tried to put all bias aside and just fall in to the story. Lincoln Hall is a talented writer who grabbed my mental attention right away. The story is not only amazing but so is how he talks about it. He is able to make the transfer of the physical, the hallucination and the emotional real in a way that is unlike anything that I have read relating to mountaineering experiences. If you have ever enjoyed a Reinhold Messner Book, you will like this one.