In this collection, Krakauer writes of mountains from the memorable perspective of one who has himself struggled with solo madness to scale Alaska's notorious Devil's Thumb.
Eiger Dreams is a collection of stories about mountaineering and mountaineering culture. This collection of a dozen or so chapters (I suspect all were magazine articles first) regales the reader with the danger of high-altitude climbing, the uniqueness of attitude among many of the climbers and a slice of the culture that surrounds the climbing world.
On the whole the stories are gripping and interesting. It falls short only in one or two instances when the author delves into set place stories like describing the town near Mt. Blanc that seems to derive it's personality from the towering rock and those who are drawn to it in great multitudes each year.
The chapters on individual climbs introduce the reader to the thrills and dangers of high-risk climbing, without the chance that one will tumble out of an armchair 10,000 feet to become part of a mountain. Particularly enjoyable are the articles on the North face of the Eiger, the author's own journey to solo climb Alaska's Devil's Thumb at age 23 and a chapter on the Burgesses -- two mountaineering hobos who combine moxie with single mindedness as they climb the world's tallest peaks. I also enjoyed the chapter detailing early attempts to divine whether or not Everest was really the tallest mountain -- some of the journeys associated with ascertaining the claims of competing peaks remind one of Scott's Polar expeditions -- fueled more by British resolve than planning and logistics.
One wonders at the bent of mind that draws climbers to the highest climbs.Read more ›