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Climbing Everest

I’ve gotten hooked on a series on the Discovery Channel, Everest: Beyond The Limit. You can watch full episodes on the Discovery Channel website, download series 1 (2006) or series (2007) on iTunes, or get the DVD. It’s a great show, full of all the drama and adventure you could every want. Best of all, it’s real.

I am a big fan of mountaineering books and stories, though I have never actually strapped on (or even held) crampons before in my life. I just finished Ed Viestur’s new book, “No Shortcuts To The Top,” detailing his conquest of the world’s 14 highest peaks over 8000 meters, all without bottled oxygen. There’s something about these mountaineering stories, and the extreme effort, patience and long-term planning they require; that are really gripping to read. Even though any expedition has massive logistical and team considerations, there is a huge focus on individual will that just appeals to me in the same way individual pursuits like racing an Ironman or other endurance events have.

I’ve read dozens of accounts of Everest summit attempts, but I never really understood how extreme the effort really was. This show takes you all the way to the top, using helmet cams shots from base camp (using a high powered telescope). What I was also amazed with, was how so many of the adventurers were absolutely clueless about mountaineering, yet expected to summit. Several appeared extremely out of shape, and just plain uncoordinated and unskilled on the mountain.

I can’t imagine how someone could travel to a remote region of the world, spend 3 months and $50K to land on an expedition team….and yet not put in the full effort to at least master the technical skills involved with such a climb. At the same time, the power and strength of the Sherpa people was awe inspiring. They climb ahead of the expedition teams, breaking trail, setting all the fixed ropes (miles and miles worth) up the mountain, and climbing backbreaking loads. In many cases, top Sherpa crew members will summit several times in a single season! They are the real heros of the story.


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  2. Sherpas are the true hereos of Everest. To learn more about this amazing tribe, read Beyond the Summit by Linda LeBlanc. Details of Sherpa culture and religion are interwoven in a tale of romance and high adventure. The story has something for everyone: a love affair between an American journalist and Sherpa guide, conflict between generations as the modern world challenges centuries of tradition, an expedition from the porter’s point of view.

    Below are selections from reviews. To read the complete ones and excerpts go to [www] beyondthesummit-novel.com

    Beyond the Summit, is the rare gem that shows us the triumphs and challenges of a major climb from the porter’s point of view. The love of two people from diverse cultures is the fiery centerpiece of a novel that leads its readers through harshly beautiful and highly dangerous territory to the roof of the world. Malcolm Campbell, book reviewer

    Conflict and dialog keep this gripping story of destiny, romance and adventure moving from the first page to the last paragraph. LeBlanc has a genius for bonding her readers and her characters. I found I was empathizing in turn with each character as they faced their own personal crisis or trauma.
    Richard Blake for Readers Views.

    A gripping, gut-twisting expedition through the eyes of a porter reveals the heart and soul of Sherpas living in the shadows of Everest. EverestNews.com

    A hard-hitting blend of adventure and romance which deserves a spot in any serious fiction collection. Midwest Book Review

    LeBlanc is equally adept at describing complex, elusive emotions and the beautiful, terrifying aspect of the Himalayan Mountains. Boulder Daily Camera

    LeBlanc’s vivid description of the Himalayas and the climbing culture makes this a powerful read. Rocky Mt News Pick of the Week

    A rich adventure into the heart of the Himalayan Kingdom. Fantastic story-telling from one who has been there. USABookNews.com

    This is the book to read before you embark on your pilgrimage to Nepal. The author knows and loves the people and the country, and makes you feel the cold thin air, the hard rocks of the mountains, the tough life of the Sherpa guides, and you learn to love them too. This is a higly literate, but also very readable book. Highly recommended.”
    – John (college professor)

    Memorable characters and harrowing encounters with the mountains keep the action moving with a vibrant balance of vivid description and dialogue. Literary Cafe Host, Healdsburg, CA

    This superbly-crafted novel will land you in a world of unimaginable beauty, adventure, and romance. The love story will keep you awake at night with its vibrant tension and deep rich longing. Wick Downing, author of nine novels

    Such vividly depicted images of the Everest region and the Sherpa people are the perfect scenario for the romance and adventure feats narrated. It’s a page-turner, so engrossing you end up wanting to visit Nepal! Not just novel, but perfect for those seeking to get acquainted with the culture of this country.
    By Claudia Fournier (América, Bs. As., Argentina)

    Available through Barnes and Noble, Borders, amazon.com, Chesslerbooks.com, and the web site

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