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Finalising our Everest book

Yesterday was a landmark in the life of our Rucksack Pocket Summits series, in that I finished my work on Harry Kikstra's Everest guidebook, and it's now off to repro for publication in March 2009. Getting this far hasn't been easy. After climbing his seven summits, guiding clients up Everest and making TV documentaries, author Harry is now cycling from Alaska to Cape Horn with his fiancée Ivana. So getting answers to queries has depended on whether and when he stops somewhere with good internet access. And sometimes getting high-resolution images has depended on what's on the hard drive in his pannier! The result is that my editorial role has been more demanding than usual, and I've been drawing heavily on my Xtreme Everest experience of April 2007 to make sense of the routes, the priorities and to fill a few photographic gaps.

I'm very proud of this series. Dozens of people have published accounts of their personal journeys to the seven summits, but nobody has ever published guidebooks that actually tell you how to. Harry gives an honest account of what is involved, and this must help would-be Everest climbers to decide whether it's really for them. So far, all those who have proof-read have said how much the book has put them off the whole idea. Maybe there will be a market among friends and family of aspirant climbers who want to put their loved ones off the whole thing? Anyway, looking at the book's gallery it's hard not to respond to the sheer beauty of the place.

It has also brought me into contact with two more amazing people (I'm used to Harry doing amazing things). For photographs high on the Nepal side, we are indebted to Alan Arnette of Colorado, whose website is a brilliant resource on Everest and many other mountains. He has superb photographs, videos and route narrative. His climbing drive is closely connected with his determination to raise funds to Cure Alzheimer's - the heart-rending disease that leads to bereavement by inches.

On the other side of the world, in New South Wales, is Lincoln Hall, Harry's team-mate who in May 2006 was left for dead high on Everest with no tent, sleeping-bag or oxygen. Because he had no pulse and wasn't breathing, his rucksack was understandably removed by the sherpas. He went on to defy physics and medical science by surviving overnight in extreme cold at 8600m. Dan Mazur and other climbers found him next morning, sitting cross-legged on a ridge near Mushroom Rock, and abandoned their climbs to save his life. They must have had the fright of their lives when Lincoln greeted them "I imagine you're surprised to see me here?". This masterpiece of under-statement gives you some idea what to expect from Lincoln's wonderful book Dead Lucky. Lincoln has just kindly agreed to endorse Harry's book. My correspondence with Alan Arnette and Lincoln Hall has certainly enlivened my daily emails recently.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 15, 2008 5:15 PM.

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