Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Snychro again-Extraordinary Mountaineering Read

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.

1 comment:

nepalwriter said...

Dan Mazur, whom you mentioned, has read and loved Beyond the Summit by Linda LeBlanc.
Sherpas are the true heroes of Everest. Without their assistance, very few would reach the summit. To learn more about this amazing tribe, read Beyond the Summit. Details of Sherpa culture and religion are interwoven in a tale of romance and high adventure. The story has something for everyone: a love affair between an American journalist and Sherpa guide, conflict between generations as the modern world challenges centuries of tradition, an expedition from the porter’s point of view.

Below are selections from reviews. To read the complete ones and excerpts go to

Beyond the Summit, is the rare gem that shows us the triumphs and challenges of a major climb from the porter’s point of view. The love of two people from diverse cultures is the fiery centerpiece of a novel that leads its readers through harshly beautiful and highly dangerous territory to the roof of the world. Malcolm Campbell, book reviewer

Conflict and dialog keep this gripping story of destiny, romance and adventure moving from the first page to the last paragraph. LeBlanc has a genius for bonding her readers and her characters. I found I was empathizing in turn with each character as they faced their own personal crisis or trauma.
Richard Blake for Readers Views.

A gripping, gut-twisting expedition through the eyes of a porter reveals the heart and soul of Sherpas living in the shadows of Everest.

A hard-hitting blend of adventure and romance which deserves a spot in any serious fiction collection. Midwest Book Review

LeBlanc is equally adept at describing complex, elusive emotions and the beautiful, terrifying aspect of the Himalayan Mountains. Boulder Daily Camera

LeBlanc’s vivid description of the Himalayas and the climbing culture makes this a powerful read. Rocky Mt News Pick of the Week

A rich adventure into the heart of the Himalayan Kingdom. Fantastic story-telling from one who has been there.

This is the book to read before you embark on your pilgrimage to Nepal. The author knows and loves the people and the country, and makes you feel the cold thin air, the hard rocks of the mountains, the tough life of the Sherpa guides, and you learn to love them too. This is a higly literate, but also very readable book. Highly recommended.”
– John (college professor)

Memorable characters and harrowing encounters with the mountains keep the action moving with a vibrant balance of vivid description and dialog. Literary Cafe Host, Healdsburg, CA

This superbly-crafted novel will land you in a world of unimaginable beauty, adventure, and romance. The love story will keep you awake at night with its vibrant tension and deep rich longing. Wick Downing, author of nine novels

Such vividly depicted images of the Everest region and the Sherpa people are the perfect scenario for the romance and adventure feats narrated. It’s a page-turner, so engrossing you end up wanting to visit Nepal! Not just novel, but perfect for those seeking to get acquainted with the culture of this country.
By Claudia Fournier (América, Bs. As., Argentina)

Available through Barnes and Noble, Borders,,, and the web site