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Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men And Mountains Paperback – Feb 10 2009
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No matter what the actual temperature may be, several pages into Eiger Dreams you will begin to shiver. Halfway through you will acquire a new appreciation for your fingers, toes, and the fact that you still have a nose. And by the end of this collection, you'll define some commonly used phrases in an entirely different way. The understated "catch some air" and the whimsical "log some flight time" are climbers' euphemisms for falling, while "crater" refers to what happens when you log some flight time all the way to the ground. "Summiting," the term for reaching the top of a mountain, seems almost colorless in comparison. The various heroes, risk-takers, incompetents, and individualists Krakauer captures are more than colorful, whether they summit or not. The author is more interested in exploring the addiction of risk--the intensity of effort--than mere triumph. There's the mythical minimalist climber, John Gill, whose fame "rests entirely on assents less than thirty feet high," and the Burgess brothers--freewheeling, free-floating English twins who seem to make all the right decisions when it counts, and hence most often fail to reach the top. Of course, they are alive. Over these and other talented climbers hangs a malignant, endlessly creative nature--its foehn winds can make people crazy and its avalanches do far worse. Eiger Dreams is an adrenaline fest for the weary, an overdue examination of a stylish, brave subculture. As one of the heroes Krakauer outlines says of his occupation, "It's sort of like having fun, only different." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Armchair adventurers can't ask for better entertainment than this tour of the legendary locations of mountaineering and the eccentric climbers who gather there.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Knowing that adventures are better heard as a story rather than read, I also opted for Philip Franklin's reading for Books on Tape. This was a stunningly good choice. Mr. Franklin makes you feel like you are right there as you look down from dizzying heights of thousands of feet while being held up by a small patch of crumbling ice.
The diversity of the stories is remarkable, from those who want to set records for getting up dangerous new routes to those who want to set records for speed in sport climbing (lots of strength and technique but not much risk). I was very surprised by some of the stories, including the ones about climbing "impossible" boulders that might be only 30 feet high and tall columns of crumbling frozen water . . . unattached to any nearby rock.
Mr. Krakauer has a wonderful ability to bring you into the stories by recounting his own fearful beginnings as a climber and the ways that he has sought release from humdrum cares by climbing. You'll find yourself chilled to the bone in places, even though you may be sitting in front of a roaring fire. It's a great trip!
I don't think I'll take up climbing, but I am indebted to this brilliant exposition of climbing's appeal.
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 ›
He also touches on many different aspects of the sport, including what it's like to be stuck in your tent for days on end; the rewards and repercussions of solo climbing; the challenge laid down by legendary climber Reinhold Messner, who eschewed pre-prepared routes and bottled oxygen; and the culture of climbing towns which are packed to the gills with climbers of varying degrees of skill and equipment.
My favorite essay is the last one, probably because it's the most personal to the author. In it he tells the story of how he quit his dead-end job and spent his last dollar on an ambitious attempt to become the first climber to scale the north face of the Devil's Thumb, an imposing Alaskan peak. This piece is repeated in Krakauer's later book "Into the Wild", but it is definitely worth reading twice if you have both books.
My only complaint is that I got more out of Krakauer's later books "Into the Wild" and "Into Thin Air", if only because they deal with a single narrative and draw the reader that much deeper into the lives of their obsessed protagonists. The essays in "Eiger Dreams" do not explore as deeply as those later books, but they still do a good job of reflecting the excitement and danger inherent in the sport.
Most recent customer reviews
I purchased this book after reading both Into Thin Air and Into The Wild. Although not as exciting as the two I previously mentioned this is still a really good read. Read morePublished on May 2 2014 by Tyler Dixon
This is an engaging, brilliantly-written set of stories, not about just the experiences, but about the mindsets of climbers. Did I say enganging? I should have said spellbinding. Read morePublished on July 12 2004 by S. D. Lord
I read Into Thin Air a few years ago. I found it compelling, but at points I felt that the writing was rushed. I just finished Eiger Dreams and was very impressed. Read morePublished on May 23 2004
I read this book with a mixture of awe and revulsion. There's no denying that Krakauer is a good writer, and that the events and people of which he writes are interesting. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2004 by K Scheffler
I highly recommend this collection of short stories for those who like to read of adventure and the outdoors and how it engrosses some people's life. Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2002 by PAUL W CAMPBELL
"Eiger Dreams" is a compelling collection of twelve stories by mountaineering writer Jon Krakauer. Included are several first person accounts of his own adventures, including his... Read morePublished on July 28 2002 by Brian D. Rubendall
Eiger Dreams is a very engrossing collection of short stories; Krakauer is so descriptive that I felt as if I had almost partaken in the adventures myself. Read morePublished on May 31 2001 by C. Waldorf