A journey to the top of the world and the soul of a family.
Norgay, climbing leader of David Breashears’s IMAX expedition, shares both his story of adventure and an intimate portrait of his search for his father, Tenzing Norgay. The elder Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, and the emotional core of the story concerns the author’s construction of a connection with his deceased father by recreating his historic achievement. The family elements don’t stand in the way of the genuine adventure of Norgay’s account, however, as the drama unfolds on the deadly terrain of Everest, where a sudden storm or a slight slip-up can easily result in many deaths. (The terrain is gruesomely littered with the frozen corpses of men who had tried and failed to make the ascent with previous expeditions, and some of them were very close to the author’s own camps.) Norgay and coauthor Coburn cover the logistical details of summiting Everest with welcome precision and a clarity that opens the story to a much wider audience than merely the crampon-clad mountaineering herd. Indeed, by weaving the seemingly disparate elements of the IMAX expedition with personal elements of his own life and history, the author’s tale escapes easy generic classification. Whether describing the bouts of edema that afflict the climbers, answering age-old questions about the ways one attends to certain bodily functions atop a mountain, or hinting ever so slightly that his father beat Hillary to the top by a step or two, Norgay’s narrative achieves a deft balance between adventure story and family memoir. Breashears’s IMAX movie combined majestic shots with a gripping story of adventure, foolhardiness, and drive; this is a companion piece fully worthy of the events that inspired it.
Essential reading for mountaineers, both actual and armchair.