Friday 10 May 2013

The Chomolungma Diaries by Mark Horrell

The Chomolungma Diaries - what a Commercial
Everest Expedition is Really Like
by Mark Horrell

Everest has been in the news a lot recently, and for all the wrong reasons. The press often seems to take a perverse delight in preying on the negative aspects on climbing the highest mountain in the world. Many of the complaints about Everest have become tired cliches, often repeated by armchair mountaineers who have never been anywhere near the mountain: "It's just a walk" ... "Everest is a complete circus" ... "No real mountaineer worth his salt would go near it" ... "It's overrun by rich idiots with no climbing experience." I'm sure you've heard them all, but are they true?

Mark Horrell's brilliant little book has a simple but noble aim: to tell the truth about Everest, from the perspective of a mountaineer who has actually been a member of a commercial expedition.

It's written in the manner of a travel diary. I was struck by the immediacy and honesty of the writing. There is no flowery prose or philosophising here; the author simply describes his Everest adventure in a straightforward but engaging way, taking us through the ups and downs of the expedition. He paints a vivid picture of Base Camp life (which largely consists of drinking!) and proves that Everest certainly is not a straightforward walk, even in the 21st century: it's a brutal struggle and a real challenge still.

He also proves that most people who tackle Everest are not rich idiots without an iota of climbing experience, but are experienced, dedicated mountaineers who have planned and saved for many years in order to realise their dream. The author's respect and admiration for the Sherpas is also tangible.

All in all this is a great travel book that (in my opinion) should be required reading for everyone with an interest in Everest. For a mountain surrounded with a great deal of hyperbole, legend, and half-truth, it provides a refreshing dose of honesty and perspective.

Further reading

Get the ebook here
The author runs an excellent blog - Footsteps on the Mountain. Two particularly relevant posts about Everest that I enjoyed:
Everest is not for climbers - you're joking aren't you!
5 media myths about Everest busted

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