A hero of alpinist Waterman (In the Shadow of Denali) is Luigi of Savoy, the Duke of Abruzzi and nephew of King Umberto of Italy, who, in 1897, was the first man to reach the summit of the second-highest mountain of North America. (Mt. McKinley is the highest.) At 18,000 feet from its base camp, Mount St. Elias, or as the Tlingit named it, Yasetaca, is higher than Mt. Everest (12,000 feet from base camp). The duke accomplished this with few of the modern technological aids, and Waterman, who deplores ""the crass... commercialism and overindulgent sponsorship"" that many contemporary mountain expeditions have become, is determined to emulate his hero in a desire to step ""back in time to discover how to make progress."" Waterman alternates an account of the duke's adventures with his own, and gives a substantial if overly familiar description of the dangers of mountain climbing--ice, snow, crevasses, avalanches, winds, hunger, oxygen deprivation. Unfortunately, the duke emerges as a wooden figure, difficult for the reader to identify with, and the excitement of Waterman's own adventure is diluted by his pedestrian writing. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997 Release date: 10/01/1997 Genre: Nonfiction
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