HIGH DRAMA: Mountain Rescue Stories from Four Continents by Hamish MacInnes

HIGH DRAMA: Mountain Rescue Stories from Four Continents

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KIRKUS REVIEW

MacInnes--equipment designer (the ""Terrordactyl"" ice hammer), photographer, writer, and most notably a climber's climber (the first ascent of a 2,000-foot rock wall in the Venezuelan jungle, three times on the south-west face of Everest)--has increasingly turned his attention in recent years to mountain rescue. (His International Mountain Rescue Handbook is a standard work.) Here he collects true stories ""about climbers who went astray""--many told by the participants themselves: Ludwig Gramminger on several ghastly Eiger tragedies; Milos Vrba on a complex avalanche problem in the Tatras; Norman Hardie on the epic La Perouse rescue in New Zealand. Even with helicopters and modern equipment, it's apparent, mountain rescue is still a chancy business. For every happy ending (Robert Burnett dug out alive on Beinn a'Bhuid after a 22-hour avalanche burial) there is at least one gut-wrenching saga of immense effort and compassion that fails (Toni Kurz's death on the Eiger, after an extraordinary display of endurance, almost within reach of the rescue party). Some rescues turn out bizarre: on the Grand Teton rescuers knocked out a climber who'd gone temporarily mad and thought they were dragging him down to hell. Overall, the collection starkly underscores the risk/reward dichotomy of climbing. ""Most mountaineers, however careful, realize that it could happen to them,"" says MacInnes. ""It is a fact of life. You have to consider what you want to get out of the sport and just how far you are prepared to go."" More specialized than standard expedition books, but gripping.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1981
Publisher: Mountaineers