A solid introduction to the world’s highest mountain has a you-are-there feel.
The Athanses have collaborated in a most fruitful way: Sandra as a narrative Sherpa of sorts and Pete as the raconteur of riveting adventure stories from his 14 attempts, in which he succeeded in summiting a staggering seven times. Sandra has lots of stunning facts to display—the 250 mph gusts of wind, the deadly snowstorms, the killer illnesses that can strike climbers—as well as notorious landscapes to explore: the Khumbu Icefall, the Death Zone, the Hillary Step. And certainly there are important questions to address, from the mountain’s name in Tibetan and Nepalese to how one goes to the bathroom when there is no bathroom to go to. It all smoothly gathers, like snowflakes into a glacier, and a bright, dangerous and humbling portrait of Everest/Chomolungma/Sagarmatha takes shape. Pete adds handfuls of colorful episodes, mostly crackerjack moments of mayhem averted, which are made substantive by the many tack-sharp photographs. Local guides and porters are well incorporated into the story, as are regional customs and mountain culture.
A smart, inclusive and evocative account of a mountain, its character and its past.(Nonfiction. 9-14)