Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Eiger Dreams

When Eiger Dreams was on sale for my kindle, I grabbed it. (Incidentally, my husband said, "Don't we already have that book?" after I finished it. We did. I just wanted to read it on my kindle since I was going to read it in bed after he turned his light off.) I've loved Krakauer's other books: Under the Banner of Heaven, Into the Wild, Three Cups of Deceit, and Where Men Win Glory. I have not read Into Thin Air yet.

Eiger Dreams is a number of articles that Krakauer wrote, primarily for Outside and Smithsonian magazines, in the 1980s. The stories felt a little dated, especially one where Krakauer mentioned the upcoming 1989 mountaineering season. The subject matter doesn't necessarily need to be brand new, but it seemed distracting to read about what might happen in 1989, 23 years ago.

I've become more active lately, mostly in terms of running, but in general being outdoors. I consider myself reasonably willing to hike and rock climb. Eiger Dreams was about crazy stuff I would never do: climbing K2 for example. One year on K2, approximately one person died on the mountain for each five who reached the top. Krakauer told the story of that year and how the people died. It was horrible material, but so interesting. I can't imagine the frame of mind people are in when they decide to do such risky activities.

The articles covered different topics. There's one on calculating mountain height and the thought that Mount Everest might not be the tallest mountain the world. While really interesting, this one felt dated when you think about today's GPS system. Another that I really enjoyed was about Alaskan bush pilots. Those guys do some amazing flying.

One of the stories profiled a mountain climber who grew up in the south, but moved to the west. His comment about that move felt dead-on to my similar move: "I grew up the Deep South, where you're surrounded by thick, soft trees, and it's hard to see the sky barbecue of the humidity. the landscape, by and large is flat. Nature doesn't confront you there. It was a tremendous transition for me to come out West for the first time. I was overwhelmed by the rocks, by the scale, by the wide-open space."The first time I came to Wyoming, my dad and I drove. In western Nebraska I-76 branches southwest toward Denver while I-80 continues west into Wyoming. At this point the sky opens up and you feel like you can see forever.

There's some great stuff in Eiger Dreams.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for recommending; I've read Into Thin Air - quite enjoyed it. Will check the library for this one.