Thrilling, and I had trouble putting this down. But it's so intense that I had to take a break at a couple of points! This is the story of the ascent of a route in the Romsdal valley, Norway, by a couple of moderately experienced twins. It is a classic of the "most accidents are the cumulative result of quite minor errors" genre. But it is much more than that. This book has been writing itself in the authors' head for 40 years and like a fine wine, it has matured into a classic piece of prose. It is astonishing that a single, not especially difficult climb, albeit a very long (6000 feet) climb and the subsequent descent could be so engrossing. At one point, even though I knew that the author obviously survived, I was completely carried along as he contemplated his mortality. Norway, in those pre-cellphone, pre GPS, pre-any sort of professional rescue days (late 60s), was one of the frontier places to climb in Europe. Even on the well described routes, you were somewhat on your own. And the eponymous route here was anything but well described. But it was close to their tent, relatively speaking, came recommended and wasn't supposed to be especially difficult. This 6000 foot climb is described in the guidebook of the time in twelve lines. And here we have two young lads, with 3-4 years climbing experience heading up to climb it. A little early in the season. It's a day trip. Be down for tea. Prepare accordingly. At the end, one of the other climbers in the area says "had an epic?". In fact, it's really 2 epics. One going up and the other going down. That nearly killed them, both times. The book ends with an afterword from the author's brother that adds some historical perspective and some footnotes on the main story. To me, the book evoked my early years climbing, and reminded me of how luck can play an alarming part in mountaineering. The author writes extremely well, giving a detailed "you are with us" feeling to the book, so that reading it I could feel the adrenaline, the nausea and the doubt that comes from being on a long and committing climb where things are not going according to plan. What's not to like? A diagram of the route would have been nice (the sketchy diagram in the guidebook is included), and a map that covers a bit more than the sketchy map that they used would help those who don't know the area. But these might have spoilt the sense of mystery, uncertainty and doubt that the author conveys so well. There's a diagram of the top of the route on the author's website [...] that I found myself consulting frequently.
After reading only two or three pages I couldn't put this book down. It was captivating. Even though you know the author and his brother survived the adventure you finding yourself almost holding your breath as you climb with them. Then after they reach the top and find a trail down you ask yourself why there are so many pages left. You soon find out that the adventure is only half over. The book is written and edited with a professionalism that is surprisingly good for a first person adventure story.
Excellent. Rarely do climbing epics get written by average climbers (no offence meant to Gordon and his twin). Their route-finding difficulties resonated with me as someone who has been left clueless at a guidebook instruction of "go 150 ft up and left to the obvious groove". Other technical decisions were well described without detracting from the pace of the tale. Again, they resonated for this less than average ability climber! I liked the writing style and Gordon's attempt to put himself back into his mindset at the time worked very well.
Two brothers almost lose their lives climbing a mountain in Norway because they let their youthful exuberance cloud their vision with regard to gathering the factual information they would need to undertake such an arduous climb.