Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow: The Dark Side of Extreme Adventure

Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow: The Dark Side of Extreme Adventure

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by Maria Coffey
     
 

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An unprecedented look into the world of high-altitude adventure and the toll mountaineering takes on the climbers and their loved onesSee more details below

Overview

An unprecedented look into the world of high-altitude adventure and the toll mountaineering takes on the climbers and their loved ones

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Coffey, whose previous book, Fragile Edge, detailed the death of the man she loved on Mt. Everest, here examines the psychological and emotional side of extreme adventurers and that of their family members. For these profiles, Coffey draws on her own experience as well as that of other climbers and their spouses. A common theme emerges, of the powerful appeal of the next challenge, even when climbers have suffered severe injuries and are leaving spouses and young children at home. Although Coffey doesn't offer conclusive reasons as to why partners tolerate such behavior, she deftly examines the unique bond between an explorer and his or her family. She recounts the surprise of a climber who learns the author has married a non-climber: "I laughed at his presumption that I'd seek out another mountaineer, yet I understood the reasoning behind it. The mountaineering tribe is a comforting place for the partner of a climber. Its protective circle shuts out the questioning eyes of the outside world. There's no need to explain why someone would chose, again and again, to put himself in danger-it is understood, accepted as normal, seen as admirable." Climbers repeatedly put themselves at risk, says Coffey, and return to climb after suffering serious injuries, even amputations. According to Coffey, competition among climbers (and a sense of self-definition through climbing) is simply an essential part of their lives. Coffey's interviews brim with rugged honesty, and some of the accident details are gruesome and potentially disturbing, yet her book's combination of memoir and psychological overview is unique. Agent, Susan Golomb. (Nov.) Forecast: A first serial in Outside magazine's September issue, Coffey's planned reading at Canada's Banff Mountain Festival and the success of Fragile Edge (it won the International Literary Mountain Prize) should make this popular among the mountaineering crowd. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Able exploration of mountaineering's personal costs, placed in context among the pleasures of climbing high and hard. Why do people climb? asks Coffey. And why would anyone love someone who repeatedly risks his or her life in the mountains? For the climbers, some suggest that their thirst for the mountains is an addiction; others, like Reinhold Messner, believe that "endurance, fear, suffering cold, and the state between survival and death are such strong experiences that we want them again and again." For those who experience the loss of a loved one while climbing—like Coffey, who wrote about her partner Joe Tasker's death on Everest in Fragile Edge (not reviewed)—it is vital to understand what drives the climber: engagement in the throes of an exciting experience, being in the presence of the divine, the fire of ambition, the chemistry of adrenaline and endorphins. Most climbers are willing to admit the pure selfishness of their enterprise; "no one was putting a gun to our heads and forcing us to do it. And we weren't doing it for the good of anyone else," says American alpinist Mark Twight. Being attracted to such an individual isn't insane, writes Coffey. They often possess an energy that is deeply engaging, but when love sinks in its hooks, the consequences can be hard. Coffey's friend told her that climbers "pursued a passion above their responsibility for and love for their family and that took precedence." It is worse still for those who had no choice, the children and parents of those who died or were gravely injured. The costs for them include a sense of abandonment for the child and "the lingering shadow grief" when the natural order of life is violated for theparent. Even so, Coffey notes of her own case, death jolts some to life. A fair summation of what impels a climber and an equally fair summation of the potentially brutal consequences.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2003 John Whyte Award for Mountain Literature and the 2004 National Outdoor Book Award

"Coffey begins where Jon Krakauer left off. His characters strive, suffer and vanish 'into thin air.' This compelling book offers voices from the other side of the mountaineering story - those left behind."

- Los Angeles Times

"...an important book...Coffey is an accomplished author with the specific expertise to make this book the great read that it is."

- Gripped Magazine

"This book is a page-turner: Coffey's writing style is direct and ferociously honest, while her use of emotionally gripping anecdotes infuses an engaging, novelistic feel...A gripping must-read."

- American Alpine Journal

Los Angeles Times

Coffey begins where Jon Krakauer left off. His characters strive, suffer and vanish 'into thin air.' This compelling book offers voices from the other side of the mountaineering story - those left behind.
Gripped Magazine

...an important book...Coffey is an accomplished author with the specific expertise to make this book the great read that it is.
American Alpine Journal

This book is a page-turner: Coffey's writing style is direct and ferociously honest, while her use of emotionally gripping anecdotes infuses an engaging, novelistic feel...A gripping must-read.
Library Journal
Those who finish Rideout’s book and find themselves somewhat agreeing with the parents of both Mallory and Irvine—that the cost of going is not worth the price others will have to pay—will find much more to consider in Coffey’s wrenching adventure accounts and psychological inquiries. Gathering stories of disasters and the reflections of those who are left behind to worry and mourn, Coffey confronts the answer Mallory gave about his desire to climb Everest, stripping the glamor from the desire to risk and achieve. She is unfortunately in a great position to do so, having lost her lover to Everest. Coffey brilliantly balances a love for climbing and the reverberations of the endeavor into a compelling picture.

(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429977425
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/01/2007
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
592,907
File size:
0 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Winner of the 2003 John Whyte Award for Mountain Literature and the 2004 National Outdoor Book Award

"Coffey begins where Jon Krakauer left off. His characters strive, suffer and vanish 'into thin air.' This compelling book offers voices from the other side of the mountaineering story - those left behind."

- Los Angeles Times

"...an important book...Coffey is an accomplished author with the specific expertise to make this book the great read that it is."

- Gripped Magazine

"This book is a page-turner: Coffey's writing style is direct and ferociously honest, while her use of emotionally gripping anecdotes infuses an engaging, novelistic feel...A gripping must-read."

- American Alpine Journal

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