The Boys of Everest: Chris Bonington and the Tragedy of Climbing's Greatest Generation

Clint Willis, Author . Carroll & Graf $26.95 (535p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1579-4

With nowhere to go but down after the 1953 conquest of Mt. Everest, mountain climbing was reinvigorated by the group of young British daredevils celebrated in this gripping adventure saga. Journalist and mountain-climber Willis (Epic ) profiles elder statesman Bonington and such climbing legends as the truculent working-class prodigy Don Whillan, the austere ex-seminarian Joe Tasker and the perpetually brooding Dougal Haston, "a beatnik's idea of a Romance poet." Their ethos of anti-establishment authenticity drove them to extreme climbs in which smaller teams working with minimal gear tackled harder routes under riskier conditions. Willis narrates almost step-by-step retracings of their ascents; they dodge falling rocks, freeze and hallucinate, dangle from fraying ropes and slip heart-stoppingly into crevasses. (Some of this detail, like the reconstructions of the last thoughts of men who died on the mountain, must be imagined rather than factual.) Less compelling are the many poetic evocations of the existential mystery of climbing—"a pilgrimage, an act of faith that arose from a sense of their own emptiness"—which add little to the standard "Because it's there." Fortunately, the spiritual musings don't obscure the bracing immediacy of Willis's story of life spent teetering on the edge of the abyss. Photos. (Oct. 1)

Reviewed on: 07/17/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 535 pages - 978-0-7867-2024-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4417-0162-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4332-0745-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-4332-0746-4
Paperback - 535 pages - 978-1-905798-21-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4332-4124-6
Open Ebook - 561 pages - 978-0-7867-3277-7
MP3 CD - 978-1-4332-0747-1
Hardcover - 448 pages - 978-1-86105-980-2
Paperback - 978-1-68051-087-4
Open Ebook - 560 pages - 978-1-68051-088-1
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