Slide show of photos from our hikes
Slide show of photos from our hikes

Armchair Adventuring

If you're like me, you may not be able to get out into the Great Outdoors as much as you would like, but still need that outdoors fix. Well, this is where I recomend some fantastic outdoors related books and films for the armchair adventurer, each with an amazon link too, in case you are interested, just click the pic or the underlined text.

White Spider is a classic book, and as well as containing a first hand account of the first successful Summit of the Eiger's North Face (of which author, Harrer was a part of), it sets the back story of the infamous mountains tragic failed attempts, including the very disturbing story of Tony Kurtz, who was immortalised in the German film North Face!

 

Although the language was slightly old fashioned (the book was written back in 1959) it goes into such detail and with a real passion for the art of mountaineering by its author, that its just a great read that leaves you wishing you were about to embark on a mountaineering expedition yourself. Well, at least thats how I felt.

This German produced movie, The North Face is where my new found obsession with mountains began. I watched this film, thinking that it was a war film, and was soon awe struck by the tragic story of one of the early attempts to climb the North Face of te mighty Eiger, of the Burnese Alps in Switzerland.

Although it is romantisised and some alterations to the true story have been altered (such is the artistic liscence)  the main crux of the story is still very true to the events that took place. And the cinematography is amazing, the views, whether digitally enhanced or not, are impeccable.

It soon led me to find out more about this mountain which in turn led me to continue to binge watch mountain documentaries. 

Another great book on the Everest disaster as mentioned in The Death Zone (below), but this time from Jon Krakauer, a mountaineer and journalist who was part of the team who scaled the mountain with the New Zealand based mountaineering expedition company Adventure Consultants, led by Rob Hall, who was one of the many that perished on this fateful day.

Into Thin Air is a brutally honest, and often humourous depiction of the events that occured, and Krakauer's writing style is immediately gripping and always very conversational, easily tearing us through the tale. Its become one of the pivotal books on this event.

The events have since been immortalised in the 2015 film
Everest starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Its not all doom and gloom on the mountains, but the majority of books I pick up tend to seem that way, and once again I recommend a book that looks at the darker side of Mountaineering, or more specifically taking a closer look at another disasterous season on top of the planets highest mountain.

 

Dark Summit is a telling account from 2006, when eleven people died on top of the mountain, and yet there wasn't even a storm in sight. Nick Heil takes a close look at the death of solo British Hiker DAvid Sharp, who was passed by forty mountaineers as he lay dying, and raises fundamental questions about the increasing commercialisation of the worlds cieling, the dangers such large expeditions create and who or where the responsibility of your fellow climbers remain. 

I don't know how many of you have seen this, but Meru is my favourite mountaineering documentary by far. This is a story of sheer devotion against the odds that isn't, for once, a tragedy.

Meru is a shark fin mountain in the Himalaya's, and one of the most technically complicated climbs to be under taken... In fact, it still hasn't been completed.

This excellently crafted documentary see's three professional climbers, Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin (who also filmed and directed the movie) and Renan Ozturk take up the gauntlet and set out on this awe inspiring journey of devotion, perseverance, and probably just plain insanity.

Some amazing yet vertigo inducing views and a series of unfortunate events thrown into their path makes for some real edge of your seat viewing that you will want to revisit time and time again.

When I'm not out on the moors, or clambering up a mountain, I like to take part in some armchair adventurism. Recently I read this book, Matt Dickinsons 'The Death Zone', which is his true account of his Everest expedition.

Now unlike (not all but many) other books on Everest, this book isn't such a romanticised account of the mountain, but an eye opening honest account of the harsh and often squalid conditions on the mountain, and told with a great amount of humour and a spattering of self deprivation by the author (which kind of reminds me of a pair of Youtube Hikers I know lol).

Matt Dickinson is a TV producer / director known for focusing on Adventure and Outdoors recreation, who, when approached by none other than Brian Blessed to take part in his third and final attempt at conquering the beast that is Everest, readily agrees, only to soon face the frightening reality that he is very under prepared, both mentally and physically for such a climb. And the fact that his climb takes place during the very same season of the infamous Everest disaster, Matt's rendition of events are constantly over shadowed by very real fear of the worst possible outcome.

It has been one of my favourite reads and I strongly recommend it to any one who has an interest in the area of hiking, and mountaineering!

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