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Facing Up
23 year old Briton reaches Everest summit

Format Book Category Narratives
Title Facing Up  Pages 290 
Author Bear Grylls  RRP  
Publisher Pan Books  Reviews
Edition 2001  Ave Rating **** (4.00 of 5)


User Comments

This is the story of the youngest British climber to reach the summit of Everest, at least as at the time of printing. Generally youth is considered a disadvantage in terms of altitude adaptation, so the achievement is all the more remarkable for it, especially when combined with the fact that the author breaks his back prior to the climb in a parachuting accident.

The writing style is quite good and book very readable at least for myself as a rock climber, with very little mountaineering experience. I think it would probably also appeal to non climbers with a interest in the mountains and what it takes to get up them, because the narrative focuses a lot more on the emotional challenges, the characters, friendships, epics, the scenery, etc, without getting bogged down by logistics, equipment and techniques that would probably be meaningless to non-mountaineers. On the other hand, we get a lot more detail of things that other Everest books I've read generally gloss over, such as what it's really like living, sleeping, cooking and taking a crap at high altitude where everything freezes in seconds and one misstep is certain doom.

There's no shortage of things that go wrong, and climbers both narrowly escaping death and being taken by it, for those that enjoy reading of epics. Further the "youthful", "all this is new to me" kind of perspective of the author is really a fresh take on the whole high altitude mountaineering scene if you've already read numerous books by many old, well experienced mountaineers that can often understate or overlook certain hardships and things they'd consider commonplace.

The only "negative", if indeed it can be called as such, is that the author, who is obviously fairly religious, makes some references to how the struggles and turmoil encountered is helped by his God. For some readers this might detract from the tale, or it might enhance it. The references a rare and not "in your face" or an attempt to convert readers or anything. Just a few personal observations by the author scattered here and there.

About half the book is lead up to the final summit bid, which I found great, because often climbers will write only of the actaul climb, and leave out all the background which is really essential to understanding the key characters.

So all up well worth a read. And as I say, a fresh perspective that I quite enjoyed. 


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