The annals of a frenzied team's assault on the stupendous ""Mountain of Storms"" of the Himalayas are positively hypnotic. The climbers know that the very idea of climbing a mountain is ridiculous; yet they find the notion of conquering this legendary peak which killed seven men four years earlier (the tale of the single survivor is harrowing) intoxicating -- so much so that they must fortify themselves against it: they indulge in frozen beer, pontificate on the virtues of motherhood, etc. But rather than declaim on the heroics of man against nature, the authors write with a balance of self-deprecation and fanatic drive, creating a texture rich in ironic contrast (""Psychologically, most people were convinced that everyone else was slowly losing his mind, but that it would be a breach of etiquette to tell him so""). These men are anti-heroes: ascending, when snowed in their camp, they read Gibbons' Decline and Fall -- returning, they read Thor comics; scaling the highest peaks, they endure the agonies of hemorrhoids. The imposing dangers -- snowslides, bone-chilling temperatures, lack of oxygen, sheer cliffs, exhaustion -- and post-victory depression produce in the authors, finally, convulsive, cathartic tears. That may be your reaction, too, and you become as obsessed with surmounting giant molehills as they are.