Bibliophile reviews Kingdoms of Experience: Everest, the unclimbed ridge by Andrew Greig

Year published: 1986
Genre: Non-fiction: mountain-climbing, Mt. Everest
Setting & time: Mt. Everest, Tibet, 1985.

The Story:
In 1984 Greig, then relatively inexperienced as a mountain climber, had joined an expedition to the Himalayas as a writer and member of the support crew. At the end of the expedition, the leader, Mal Duff, heard about an available climbing permit for Mt. Everest from the Tibetian side, and decided to put together an expedition to try to climb the then unclimbed north-east ridge of Mount Everest. Greig joined the expedition and the book tells the story, not just about the climb itself, but also the planning, putting together the team, financing and getting to Tibet.

Review:
This book, while probably of most interest to mountain climbers and those interested in climbing, can give non-climbers an insight into the immense amount of work that goes into an expedition like this one, the strain of high-altitude climbing and the dangers of it (not just falls and frostbite), and as it was not written by a professional climber, the language does not lapse into technical jargon. The few technical terms, mostly for pieces of climbing equipment, are easily looked up in a dictionary, but even if you don’t look them up (like me) their presence does not slow down the reading or mar the reading pleasure.

The story as told from Greig’s point of view gives the book structure, but is complemented by frequent entries from the other expedition members’ journals, so we get to see some of the key events of the climbing and their thoughts about it, but also about daily life in the camps.

Rating: A very interesting look at mountain climbing, even for a non-climber. 4 stars.

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