Snow In The Kingdom, My Storm Years On Everest
$35 postpaid in N/A
I want you to know up front that I've been a fan of Ed Webster's books for years. He doesn't write "real books" you say! Well, in my humble opinion both editions of his "Rock Climbs In The White Mountains" are as real a books as any. Filled with stories of the men and women who pioneered climbing in the White Mountains of New England, he has chronicled them well. I've spent many evenings going through the routes, reading and rereading the stories of those climbers, as if they were a novel. Ed served his writing apprenticeship working on these guides, and obviously the time was well spent.
I got my copy at Ed's slideshow at IME in early February, intending to read it during my 2-week trip to the Canadian Rockies later in the month. But, I kept picking it up - reading a paragraph here or there, looking at a picture or two. I knew that once I started in I'd be unable to put it down. it was so distracting that finally I put it away in my carry-on, just to get it out of sight. That proved to be the right thing, because once I broke it out on the plane I didn't put it away until I arrived in Calgary. Every night after climbing I would read at least 20 pages, no matter how tired I was. I finished it off on the flight home. The biggest letdown was closing the back cover. I just wanted it to go on and on.
In "Snow In The Kingdom" Ed turned his attention to the story that has preoccupied him for the past 13 years - his expedition to the remote Kangshung face of Everest in 1988 and the events that led him to it. This is an epic climbing story, melding joy, sorrow, humor and tragedy. The story winds together the death of his girlfriend Lauren in a climbing accident, two previous trips to Everest, the Kangshung expedition and putting a single member on the summit, the horrifying descent with Ed's loss of fingers and toes from frostbite and culminates with his physical rehabilitation and subsequent bouts of panic attacks. Make no mistake, this is a very personal story - as personal as it gets. No 3rd person narrative this! Ed's passion for climbing, for the mountains and his affection for the people he experienced this with all come through. Besides the events themselves, we come away with a deep appreciation for Ed Webster, the man. And through his pictures I have a new appreciation now for Ed Webster the photographer.
Here is the last paragraph from the "Snow In The Kingdom" chapter. It takes place the night before they left on their summit attempt:
"I lay in my sleeping bag, listening to music, unable to calm the adrenaline rushing through my body. I thought of my mentor, the eighty-eight-year-old mountaineer Fritz Wiessner, and knew I'd be thinking of him as I plodded up Everest's summit ridge. I hoped that I had the same determination within me that Fritz had shown when he attempted the first ascent of K2 - without bottled oxygen - in 1939. But I also hoped that I'd know when to stop, when to listen to my inner self if things went wrong. Brushing away my fears that one of us might die, and that it could even possibly be me who died, I concentrated instead on the prize, the dream: that for a single day I might coexist with the roof of the world."
It's not enough that "Snow In The Kingdom" is a damn good read, it's also the ultimate coffee-table book. So, here's what you get for your $35 (US):
150 pages of color photographs
282 black and white photos
maps of Asia and the Tibetan Plateau
3 climbing route maps of Everest's three faces
8 detailed and up-to-date Everest climbing route photo-diagrams.
If you order it direct, you will get a signed copy! You can also get the Limited Team Edition signed by 9 climbers or the Limited Signed Deluxe edition signed by such luminaries as Sir Edmund Hillary, Dr. Charles Houston, Brad Washburn, Tom Hornbein, Robert Anderson, Ed Webster, Stephen Venables, Paul Teare, Pete Athans, Reinhold Messner, Peter Habeler, Sir Chris Bonington, Joe Brown, Maurice Herzog, Dick Bass, and David Breashears. WHEW! Believe me, any one of these is a great addition to any climber's library.
This is a superlative yarn, spun by a master climber who has truly come into his own as a writer. Strongly recommended.
ISBN #: 0965319911, Library of Congress #: 00-192041