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We were browsing in "Select Bookshop", the venerable second hand bookshop in Bangalore. I was looking for some travel books when I saw a book titled "Eiger Dreams". A small book, it is written by Jon Krakauer who is one of the respected mountaineers and also a well-known travel writer.
There are interesting essays on mountaineering, mountaineers and other adventures. Of the lot, there is one essay, which is all about “On Being Tentbound”. Funny and insightful, Jon writes about being stuck in a tent for days. It’s a quite humorous essay ruminating on the sometimes tender psyche of adventurers, and what can happen to the vulnerable mindsets of adrenaline junkies when, due to weather, their expeditions come to a forced halt. Some of us would have undergone a similar experience while on treks whether in India or anywhere. Reading it surely bring back some memories.
An excerpt from New York Times review on the book...
"In EIGER DREAMS: Ventures Among Men and Mountains (186 pp., Lyons & Burford, $17.95), Jon Krakauer adopts a strategy much like Mr. Mewshaw's when answering a question asked him by family, friends and even utter strangers: why would you want to risk your life climbing a mountain? In this collection of essays, most of which were written for Outside and Smithsonian magazines, Mr. Krakauer uses subtle tactics: ''I circle the issue continually, poke at it from behind with a long stick now and then, but at no point do I jump right in the cage and wrestle with the beast directly, mano a mano.''
Mr. Krakauer, who is well regarded among my friends in the climbing community, believes that ''climbing strikes that chord in the public imagination most often associated with sharks and killer bees.'' In this book, he aims ''to prune away some of this overgrown mystique.'' And these pieces, which take us from Mt. McKinley to Chamonix to Pakistan, do just that. The title essay, for instance, is an account of a failed attempt on the deadly North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland. This Alpine wall is terrifying, and Mr. Krakauer considers it a matter of ''luck'' that the weather forced him down.
The reader who knows little about climbing will learn much from ''Eiger Dreams,'' but Mr. Krakauer has taken the literature of mountains onto a higher ledge. It used to be that men ''conquered'' mountains in a cacophony of gratuitous chest-thumping. Today, climbers who write feel compelled to experience epiphanies on the summit. Personally, I'm suspicious about this continual and simultaneous achievement of summit and epiphany. It's as if someone told you that he and his lover always have simultaneous orgasms. You'd detect a certain falseness in the claim.
Mr. Krakauer has set out to strip away that falseness. His snow-capped peaks set against limitless blue skies present problems that inspire irrefutable human experiences: fear and triumph, damnation and salvation. There is a beauty in his mountains beyond that expressed in conventional sermons. His reverence is earned, and it's entirely genuine."
Here is a link to the book on Google books. Better buy a copy. Enjoy the journey with Jon! You will not be satiated though!
Photo Credit - Paul Sydney