February 2012 Book Club News

Jim Moss writes in about the Front Range Book Club:

1.       The Joy of Books

2.       Next month will be our 3rd Anniversary!!  We’ll be Reading Wade Davis new book Into the Silence.

This is from Amazon:

On June 6, 1924, two men set out from a camp perched at 23,000 feet on an ice ledge just below the lip of Mount Everest’s North Col. George Mallory, thirty-seven, was Britain’s finest climber. Sandy Irvine was a young Oxford scholar of twenty-two with little previous mountaineering experience. Neither of them returned.

In this magisterial work of history and adventure, based on more than a decade of prodigious research in British, Canadian, and European archives, and months in the field in Nepal and Tibet, Wade Davis vividly re-creates British climbers’ epic attempts to scale Mount Everest in the early 1920s. With new access to letters and diaries, Davis recounts the heroic efforts of George Mallory and his fellow climbers to conquer the mountain in the face of treacherous terrain and furious weather. Into the Silence sets their remarkable achievements in sweeping historical context: Davis shows how the exploration originated in nineteenth-century imperial ambitions, and he takes us far beyond the Himalayas to the trenches of World War I, where Mallory and his generation found themselves and their world utterly shattered.  In the wake of the war that destroyed all notions of honor and decency, the Everest expeditions, led by these scions of Britain’s elite, emerged as a symbol of national redemption and hope.

Beautifully written and rich with detail, Into the Silence is a classic account of exploration and endurance, and a timeless portrait of an extraordinary generation of adventurers, soldiers, and mountaineers the likes of which we will never see again.

Wade is a great writer and speaker so I suspect the book will be very well written. We’ll see if our super sleuths can find some holes in this account of what happened on Everest in the 1920’s.

Finally Greg Glade of Top of the World Books is going to be starting an AAC Bookclub in Vermont. If you know anyone in Vermont who reads…….look for more information on the New England Section page of the AAC website.



Front Range Book Club November/December Reading

Book Club leader Jim Moss writes in:

November’s book:  The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible by John

One of the issues that keeps popping up in a lot of the books we read is the

third man. So in November, let’s look into it!

From Amazon: “A scientific mystery or divine intervention is how Geiger, the editorial

board editor at the Globe and Mail and author of Frozen in Time, describes

The Third Man Factor, the human knack of facing deprivation and possible

death with an unseen presence pointing the path to survival. He researched

these visitations for six years, chronicling their history in harrowing

life-and-death events with mountaineers, sailors, divers, aviators and polar

explorers. It is to Geiger’s credit that he stresses the very human need to

endure and survive through critical times in the included anecdotes over the

sometimes convoluted scientific jargon, especially the gripping tales of the

last 9/11 survivor Ron DiFrancesco, NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger aboard the

Mir space station and merchant seaman Kenneth Cooke, who paddled in

shark-infested waters. Whether this guardian angel factor is neurological or

divine, Geiger’s fresh, insightful book will tell readers things that are

not easily explainable, but no less real for that.”

December’s book: No Way Down: Life and Death on K2 by Graham Bowley

From Amazon: “In this riveting work of narrative nonfiction, journalist Graham Bowley

re-creates one of the most dramatic tales of death and survival in

mountaineering history, vividly taking readers through the tragic 2008 K2

ascent that claimed the lives of eleven climbers, severely injured two

others, and made headlines around the world.

With its near-perfect pyramid shape, the 28,251-foot K2-the world’s

second-highest mountain, some 800 feet shorter than the legendary Everest

hundreds of miles to the south-has lured serious climbers for decades. In

2008, near the end of a brief climbing season cut even shorter by bad

weather, no fewer than ten international teams-some experienced, others less

prepared-crowded the mountain’s dangerous slopes with their Sherpas and

porters, waiting to ascend.

Finally, on August 1, they were able to set off. But hindered by poor

judgment, lack of equipment, and overcrowded conditions, the last group did

not summit until nearly 8 p.m., hours later than planned. Then disaster

struck when a huge ice chunk from above the Bottleneck, a deadly 300-foot

avalanche-prone gulley just below the summit, came loose and destroyed the

fixed guide ropes. More than a dozen climbers and porters still above the

Bottleneck-many without oxygen and some with no headlamps-faced the near

impossibility of descending in the blackness with no guideline and no

protection. Over the course of the chaotic night, some would miraculously

make it back. Others would not.

Based on in-depth interviews with surviving climbers and many Sherpas,

porters, and family and friends of the deceased, No Way Down reveals for the

first time the full dimensions of this harrowing drama.”

Fall 2011 Front Range Book Club

Jim Moss, the Front Range book club’s fearless leader writes in:

Next Book club meeting is September 13, 2011 at 6:30 PM at the AAC.  We’ll be reading One Mountain Thousand Summits: The Untold Story Tragedy and True Heroism on K2 by Freddie Wilkinson.  Here’s Alpinist’s review.

October 11, 2011 at 6:30 PM at the AAC, we’ll have Jim Davison, who just wrote The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan. Jim lives in Fort Collins and we were able to entice him to come down and talk about his book.  We don’t have it here in the library yet, but we expect it soon!

Front Range Book Club Summer 2011 List

Hi, Folks!  The Front Range Book Club’s leader is down the Grand Canyon this month, and many other members are busy traveling to high places, so book club is, as planned, on hiatus for June.  That just gives you more time to read the books for the rest of the summer:

July 12:   Near Death in the Mountains: True Stories of Disaster and Survival (Vintage Departures Original) by Cecil Kuhne.  Here are some reviews on Goodreads.

August  9: A great modern day Everest Classic:  The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev and G. Weston DeWalt.  You might be interested to know that the AAC has Boukreev’s archives here in Golden. Stop by to take a look!


As always, contact the library for more information!

March 8th Front Range Book Club:

Jim Moss writes in about the March book selection:

Let’s do The Wildest Dream: The Biography of George Mallory by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman

From Amazon Reviews:

In 1924, a 37-year-old English schoolmaster and war veteran named George Mallory bid farewell to his beloved wife and children and went off to Tibet, where he intended to climb the north face of Mount Everest, a feat that had never been achieved. He was warned that the approach might not be attainable–and that, in any event, humans might not be able to survive at such altitudes without oxygen. But in that fine British spirit of dauntlessness, Mallory pressed on all the same, and he and his novice companion Andrew Irvine did not survive.

When Mallory’s frozen body was found on the high slopes of Everest in 1999, it touched off a wave of interest in the question of whether he had reached the top before falling to his death–which, if so, would unseat Edmund Hillary‘s 1953 expedition as the first to summit. Peter and Leni Gillman, themselves mountaineers, hint that he did, drawing on evidence that is at best circumstantial but compelling all the same. Their interest in this biography, however, is to provide a more complete picture of Mallory as a man of his time, who was a familiar among the Bloomsbury set of writers, a loving husband and father, an accomplished scholar and teacher, and a modest hero who, though not technically the best climber of his time, never refused a challenge. The Gillmans acquit themselves in this task very well, and they offer a fascinating reconstruction of what they imagine to be Mallory’s last moments on earth. Their book makes a fine companion to Conrad Anker and David Roberts’s The Lost Explorer and David Breashears and Audrey Salkeld’s Last Climb. –Gregory McNamee –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Why did George Mallory, his 1924 expedition in treacherous straits, nevertheless make a last-ditch attempt to go for the summit of Mt. EverestAa decision that cost the lives of this seasoned climber and his young climbing partner, Andrew Irvine? To the Gillmans, British journalists and mountaineers who together retraced Mallory’s 1921 reconnaissance expedition, the answer is plain: he hoped to resolve the conflict at the core of his marriage, to obviate the need for further expeditions and further separations from his beloved wife, Ruth. This vivid, illustrated biography is both a moving tribute to Mallory and a fresh reappraisal of the man and the legends surrounding him. While the authors take no position on whether or not Mallory and Irvine reached Everest’s acmeAa controversy intensified by the discovery of Mallory’s body in 1999Athey provide a useful summary of the ongoing debate. Drawing liberally on letters between Mallory and his wife, the Gillmans chart the highs and lows of a marriage strained by his periodic absences. While mountain climbing was for decades an imperialist’s sport, Mallory did not fit the mold. A rector’s son, he became a Fabian socialist and agnostic at Cambridge, making friends with poet Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves and Bloomsbury painter Duncan Grant, and indulging in a brief homosexual affair. Mallory’s literary output includes a study of Boswell and an intense love sonnet to fianc?e Ruth. Among the spate of recent books on Mallory’s Everest expeditions, this biography stands out for its well-rounded, sensitive portrait of a restless, thoughtful adventurer. Photos. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Come prepared in March to pick books to read!


February 8th Book Club in Golden: Fifty Classic Climbs

February 8: Fifty Classic Climbs by Steve Roper and Alan Steck.

A reminder that book club will be discussing a book that has its’ own Wikipedia entry, a Flickr photo pool and a Facebook group about people who are attempting to climb all of them – Mark and Janelle Smiley.   John Meek interviewed Alan Steck in 1995.  Come on down to the American Mountaineering Center at 6:30 on Tuesday, February 8th.

January 11th Book Club: Touching The Void, Joe Simpson

There’s an interesting thread going on over on the AAC’s Facebook page right now. The question asked was this:

“Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void, developed an interest in climbing after reading The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer. What book motivated you to start climbing? (Don’t forget that members-anywhere in the world-can check out AAC Library books and videos for free by mail)”

Quite a few people have deemed Touching the Void to be one of their primary inspirations, although the answers have ranged from Rum Doodle to Star Trek (you have to go read the thread!).

I mention this because the Golden Book Club will be meeting on January 11th at 6:30pm to talk about this book.  Even if you can’t come to the American Mountaineering Center, you can join the conversation by leaving a comment here or on the Facebook page.