THE LAST CLIMB by Thomas H. Cosgrove


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A legendary mountain climber finds his toughest peaks to scale when he joins forces with indigenous Peruvian revolutionaries in 1965. Though his reputation as a leader of climbing expeditions is nonpareil, Jim Bridgman’s career as a guide is going nowhere. And one goal continues to elude him: Nevado Viracocha, the highest peak in the Andes. But that’s before he agrees to help Father BartolomÇ D’Annunzio search for his inspirational old mentor, Father Mariano Raimondi, in the treacherous backcountry he’s rumored to have exiled himself to. Jim succeeds in reuniting the two priests, but his expedition brings him to the attention of Major Joaquin Zamora, who tosses him into an unforgiving prison mine and waits for him to die. Miraculously escaping, Jim finds himself weakened in body but immeasurably strengthened in spirit by his growing closeness to the cause of the natives. (So, in a more perfunctory parallel, does Charlie Newell, an American reporter who “had taken considerable risk for this story, never imagining that he would become part of it.”) Realizing that he needs to make one last heroic assault on Nevado Viracocha in order to galvanize the scattered poor and perhaps open himself to a mystical vision, Jim tears himself from the side of Rosa de Melgarejo, the rebel who’s been sharing his sleeping bag, and prepares for the most hazardous climb of his life, undeterred by the dangerous terrain, the uncertain weather, and the unceasing storm of clichÇs raining down on this hushed, heartfelt knockoff of For Whom the Bell Tolls. Like the brutal government forces, Cosgrove’s debut novel, blanketing every corner of “the sublime agony that was Peru” in soggy inspirational tracts, leaves only the natural landscape itself clothed in dignity and grandeur.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-83414-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1999