CLIMBING HIGH by Lene Gammelgaard

CLIMBING HIGH

A Woman's Account of Surviving the Everest Tragedy
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Everest mill continues to grind the grist of May 1996, and the results get thinner and thinner, as witness this humorless, more-cosmic-than-thou account, from a Danish psychotherapist and writer. Gammelgaard relates here her preparation for, and then climb of, Mount Everest as part of the Mountain Madness group that ran into what has become history’s most chronicled bit of heavy weather. The only new material she offers to readers who have had any exposure to the debacle (via Jon Krakauer’s bestselling Into Thin Air and other accounts) are insights into her own motivations and emotions, which she serves up in relentless and obnoxious detail. She describes herself as a “gypsy and an adventurer,” a “wild animal” who finds the Nepalese “so little that a huge Danish machine like myself could probably take on a couple at a time.” To soften the impact of hero personality, she sprinkles vapid spiritualisms: “I am focused. Balanced” and “I seek solitude, to connect with inner peace. Tai Chi among the giants of the universe. Belonging. Absolute serenity.” And few storms rival her blizzard of platitudes: “The one who doubts—wants not. / The one who wants—doubts not,” she informs us, and “visions have to be transformed into reality, otherwise they are nothing but illusion,” and “It’s better to be a genuine friend than greedy.” Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the book is that Gammelgaard wrings not a whit of suspense out of her perilous hours lost with her climbing partners—in the dark, in a blizzard with hurricane winds, within feet of one of the world’s longest sheer drops. A forgettable fog of blather and self-indulgence. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-58005-023-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Seal Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999