A fine tale of adventure and exploration sure to please any fan of climbing and Everest lore.



The author of The Impossible Climb (2019) returns with another hair-raising mountaineering story.

Professional climber and journalist Synnott chronicles his climb of Mount Everest in hopes of finding the remains, and an all-important camera, of George Mallory’s climbing partner, Andrew Irvine. In 1924, Mallory made an ill-fated attempt to be the first known human to summit Everest. Irvine joined Mallory for the final push, and neither man returned. If found, Irvine’s camera might provide evidence that the men attained the summit, or didn’t. This is the story of that attempt, narrated by Synnott with easy grace—even when the climbing and weather were anything but. The expedition also ran into the usual bureaucratic delays from the host nation (they were climbing the north face, which is in China), but the author introduces readers to a side of the mountain and its routes not typically seen, as most expeditions start from the Nepalese side. In addition to describing all of the roadblocks in their way, he populates the harrowing text with excellent background material to convey a rich sense of what summiting the great peaks entails. Synnott offers important pocket-sized biographies of Mallory and Irvine, of course, but there are also discerning forays into British colonial geopolitics, the ongoing disputes between China and Nepal, Tibet’s tortured relations with China, and the many vested Chinese political interests in the history of Everest mountaineering. Unsurprisingly, given his experience as a mountain guide, Synnott writes with gratifying savvy about all elements involved in the dangerous venture: Everest meteorology, notoriously unpredictable; the effects of altitude on the body and mind; the pleasures of camping in the sky; and the impressive biological adaptations of Sherpas, who “function at high altitudes like highly efficient hybrid vehicles that get many miles per gallon, whereas the rest of us are gas-guzzling SUVs.”

A fine tale of adventure and exploration sure to please any fan of climbing and Everest lore.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4557-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A quiet delight of a book.



A journalist’s biography of the unassuming but gutsy 67-year-old Ohio grandmother who became the first person to walk all 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail three times.

When Emma Gatewood (1887–1983) first decided she would hike the A.T., she told no one what she planned to do—not even her 11 children or 23 grandchildren. Instead, she quietly slipped away from her home in May 1955 and began her walk at the southern terminus of the trail in Georgia. Accomplishing this feat—which she often described as “a good lark”—was enough for her. Tampa Bay Times staff writer Montgomery tells the story of Gatewood’s first hike and those that followed, interweaving the story with the heartbreaking details of her earlier life. He suggests that this woman, who eventually came to be known as “Queen of the Forest,” was far from the eccentric others claimed she was. Instead, Montgomery posits that this celebrated hiker used long-distance walking to help her come to terms with a dark secret. At 18, Gatewood married a man she later discovered had a violent temper and an insatiable sexual appetite. Despite repeated beatings over 30 years, she remained with him until he nearly killed her. Afterward, she lived happily with her children for almost 20 years. Montgomery suggests that an article in National Geographic may have been what first inspired Gatewood to hike the trail. However, as her remarkable trek demonstrated, while the A.T. was as beautiful as the magazine claimed, it was also in sore need of maintenance. Gatewood’s exploits, which would later include walking the Oregon Trail, not only brought national attention to the state of hikers’ trails across a nation obsessed with cars and newly crisscrossed with highways; it also made Americans more aware of the joys of walking and of nature itself.

A quiet delight of a book.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61374-718-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.


The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?