cover image Without Ever Reaching the Summit: A Journey

Without Ever Reaching the Summit: A Journey

Paolo Cognetti, trans. from the Italian by Stash Luczkiw. HarperOne, $22.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-06-297831-8

Cognetti (The Eight Mountains) presents a delightful travelogue of his transformative visit to the Dolpo region of Nepal. To celebrate his 40th birthday, Cognetti leaves his home in the Italian Alps and joins, with a couple friends, a group of about 20 others on a monthlong hike through Nepal. Inspired by the trek Peter Matthiessen chronicled in The Snow Leopard, Cognetti sees his expedition as a pilgrimage in which the purpose is not to reach a summit or a temple, but to travel and feel welcomed by the landscape rather than challenged by it. While suffering from altitude sickness, Cognetti navigates the frothy Suli Gad river, glacier capped mountains, ancient monasteries, a herd of blue Himalayan sheep, and tracks left by the elusive snow leopard. Along the way, he embraces the Buddhist mantra om mani padme hum (om, the jewel in the lotus) adopts a little black dog, and (through contemplation of the snow leopard) comes to respect the “unseen and untouched” presence of the mountain. Luczkiw’s lush translation captures Cognetti’s impassioned descriptions of the mountains, fauna, and the many gracious people he encountered along the trail. Armchair travelers with a spiritual bent will be riveted by Cognetti’s reflections. (Jun.)