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Kirkus ReviewsA collection of essays (some reprinted from Outside and other magazines) certain to provide vicarious thrills for even the most hardened adventure reader, laced with humor and cogent observations about modern-day wilderness exploration.
Clambering under, over, and through a variety of exotic settings ranging from the Himalayas to the Brooks Range in Alaska, Roberts (In Search of the Old Ones, 1996, etc.) is not easily daunted. He makes a wintry ascent of an Icelandic peak, participates in a media-emcumbered rafting trip down a previously untraveled river in Ethiopia, and spelunks through previously untrodden passageways deep in a New Mexican cave. Roberts writes with equal vigor about the adventures of colleagues, including an acquaintance who attempts to become the first to scale the infamous north face of the Eigar, in Switzerland, in winter, alone and without climbing bolts. As a climber with numerous firsts himself, Roberts has a knowledge of the sport that lends added shivers to his already strong prose. He profiles a mountaineer who has reached the summit of Everest four times, the last time solo and without oxygen, and who comes across the bodies of friends recently perished on the mountain. A former Outward Bound instructor, Roberts challenges the commonly held belief that participation by wayward youth or business executives in currently popular wilderness outings produces any measurable positive effect in later life. Hiking the backcountry around Moab, Utah, and interviewing long-time residents, Roberts finds little basis for environmentalists' claims that this area has been spoiled by tourists and mountain bikers, the vast majority of whom stay on limited, well-beaten trails. Across the world, in Mali, he climbs to previously unvisited and nearly unreachable cave burial sites and granaries of the Tellem, a long-vanished tribe.
As educational as it is exciting, written with wit and compassion, this is highly recommended reading for adventure enthusiasts of all stripes.