BEYOND THE LIMITS by Stacy Allison


A Woman's Triumph on Everest
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 Nail-biting mountaineering wins out over soap-operatics in this absorbing tale of a woman conquering internal and external mountains. On September 29, 1988, Allison became the first American woman to stand at the peak of Mt. Everest. But her training began decades earlier, when she tried rock climbing in Utah's Zion National Park (``everything I learned electrified me'') and was instantly hooked. Here, with the help of Carlin (Brave New Bride, 1992 paperback), she grippingly describes her subsequent apprenticeship for Everest, with arduous steppingstones in Yosemite, Mt. McKinley, Pik Kommuninizma in Russia, and Ama Dablan in the Himalayas. The terrors pile up--blizzards, avalanches, dead companions--but the exhilaration of the ascent never fades. ``Climbing is how I express myself,'' Allison declares, and indeed she finds meaning largely through upward movement, confessing that if forced to choose between husband and Everest, she would head for the hills. Nonetheless, she values her love relations and relays them in schoolgirl detail: ``We lay there on our backs, talking about the stars....I was thinking: He's going to kiss me.'' The aim of this awkward dear-diary stuff seems to be to link true romance (which Allison finds with second husband David; her first turns out to be a wife-beater) and the attainment of mountain summits. No matter- -the action on the slope is what counts, and once up--especially above 19,000 feet, in the ``Death Zone''--Allison's account of mountaineering is as gritty as any. When she stands atop Everest and declares, ``I was wide open now, and I was aware of everything....I was standing on the top, looking down at the world,'' readers will join in her gusto. Allison plans a summer 1993 assault on the world's most treacherous peak, K2; this memoir, despite its unnecessary soapiness, will find its own place in that small pile of really first-rate mountaineering books. (Twenty-five b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 19th, 1993
ISBN: 0-316-03468-1
Page count: 296pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1993