Disliking Ranulph Fiennes’s writing style, I gave up at the point Scott’s first expedition to the South Pole (the Discovery Expedition) ended in 1904.
Perhaps the pointedly pro-Scott style was necessary to counteract / correct the negative portrayals of Scott published in the 1980s and 1990s; but it’s the “I know better” interjections that irritate the most, just as they did in Jim Perrin’s Shipton and Tilman.
Another South American-set autobiography that’s taken me far longer than it should to get round to reading. Ever since Hazel and I embarked on the Cordillera Huayhuash Circuit, I’ve thought, “I really ought to read Touching the Void.” – after all, we circumnavigated the Andean peaks concerned.
Joe Simpson’s account of the first ascent of the West Face of Siula Grande, which he and climbing partner Simon Yates made in 1985, gives one of the most vivid insights into the emotional experiences – the highs and the lows – that accompany climbing, and motivate those who spend time in the mountains. Touching the Void also illustrates just how quickly triumph can turn to peril, and just how deep your personal reserves of mental and physical stamina need to be once risk turns into reality.
I don’t know why I sometimes hesitate over reading Sara Wheeler’s travelogues – I always love them.
In Chile: Travels in a Thin Country, we see South America’s thin country from top to bottom (and back up again to Santiago) in the company of 30/31 year old Sara and a collection of Chilean and gringo men (and a scattering if wives and girlfriends), from all walks of life – ex pat and nuns, truckers and policemen, academics and backpackers, Central Valley descendants of conquistadors and descendants of dispossessed Indian tribes.
Career mountaineer Peter Boardman‘s account of the three alpine-style climbs he completed in 1978/1979: South Face of the Carstenz Pyramid in the Snow Mountains of New Guinea, the North Ridge of Kangchenjunga without oxygen, and Gauri Sankar’s South Summit.
Lots of honest introspection about group dynamics and what drives men (and if I’ve one criticism of this book is that in places it shows its age in how women feature and are talked about) to obsess about getting to the tops of mountains, and how, for some, age mellows that obsession into a love of just being in the mountains and becomes more balanced with a love of family and friends.