Leading Out: Women Climbers Reaching for the Top

Rachel Da Silva, Editor, Arlene Blum, Photographer Seal Press (CA) $16.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-878067-20-3
Edited by climber and freelance journalist Da Silva, this anthology combines historical biographies of the earliest women climbers and mountaineers--who wore skirts rigged with cord threaded through rings so that they could raise their hems all around with one tug--with first-person essays by women climbers of today. The former accounts are somewhat dry, but provide information necessary for understanding the present-day climbers, many of whom simply burst with enthusiasm for this harrowing sport even as they touch on the mountaineering deaths of close friends. The themes are specific, yet always universal: a 16-year-old climbing with two boys feels her first twinges of sexual desire; a Tibetan woman's participation in a climb up Mount Everest helps her to escape traditional female roles; a mother-to-be climbs through her seventh month of pregnancy and looks forward to the day when her daughter's abilities will surpass her own. One burning question, however, is left unanswered: What draws people to such a dangerous sport? The closest this volume comes to an explanation is one woman's report that after her first climbing attempt she ``felt stronger emotions than fear--desire, focus and energy--and I wanted to feel them more, soon.'' Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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