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About the Author
For five years Mark Horrell has written what has been described as one of the most credible Everest opinion blogs out there. He writes about trekking and mountaineering from the often silent perspective of the commercial client.
For over a decade he has been exploring the world's greater mountain ranges and keeping a diary of his travels. As a writer he strives to do for mountain history what Bill Bryson did for long-distance hiking.
Several of his expedition diaries are available as quick reads from the major online bookstores. His first full-length book, Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest, about his ten-year journey from hill walker to Everest climber, was published in November 2015.
His favourite mountaineering book is The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E. Bowman.
I have read earlier works by this author, and enjoyed them all. The perspective in this book is a little different. The other Kindle volumes I read were made up of his journals. As you can imagine, that makes for an immediacy in the writing. This is his first full-length book, so it naturally takes a wider view. For example, by sprinkling in sections of mountaineering history here and there. Those sections are usually interesting, written as they are from the point of view of a non-professional climber.
In a way this is his best effort, because it is longer and covers his entire trekking and climbing history, but it is a bit weaker, it seems to me because the writing seems a little more forced. For example, I became aware that he uses a lot of metaphors, and some of them seemed to fall flat for me. For example, one of the first ones 's "My pack had been about as heavy as Cliff Richard singing Van Halen numbers during a rain break at Wimbledon." Or the next one: while my stomach rumbled like a pair of toddlers sucking milkshake through a pig's intestine." Obviously they are meant to be exaggeration, a classic form of humor since Twain, but some of them fall flat in my opinion, and there may be just a few too many of them. But this was a minor distraction for me, and perhaps because I am, a writer ,myself.
I heartily recommend this book, not just for its own travelogue, mountaineering story telling, but to support the author su that he can climb high and write again.
I have long been a fan of Mark's writing and this work is a culmination of his many journeys through which I have been a vicarious participant. His candor appeals to anyone that has mountain ambitions as he weaves the tale for lay climbers and seasoned veterans alike. Mark's self-effacing humor hides an unrivaled depth of historical knowledge that only a mountain geek like myself could fully appreciate. When viewing the Rongbuk, Mark notes each step on Chomolungma's flank and conveys thoughts about the potential fruition of Mallory and Irvine's efforts there. As someone who has experienced expedition life, it is evident the author can capture the essence of down time in base camp and the requisite casts of reappearing characters we feel as if are known by the end of the book. I appreciate that Horrell eschews the pretense of alpine style and unapologetically embraces commercial mountaineering as a practical means to an end. He is a new breed of mountaineer and his voice is large in the tight knit climbing community. I look forward to hearing more of it.
Mark Horrell is a regular (English) guy who decided to become a mountaineer and graduated from being a hiker to climbing not just the famous Mount Everest but some other (in)famous and complicated peaks as well. His writing style is light and chatty and makes for an easy enjoyable read. My only critique is his excessive use of simile and metaphor which obstructs the easy flowing narrative with bizarre and frequently out-of-synch word images which are often not as funny as they could be. If you didn't grow up with anEnglush sense of humor this could be a bigger issue. That aside you'll learn more about mountaineering from this book that you will from any other non specialist source. The details are fascinating and Horrell's frank exploration of his fears and hopes make this book a page turner. Surprisingly enjoyable read. Highly recommended.
Great book! Once again, Mark writes in such excellent style, you really enjoy reading his books. Seven Steps takes his entire journey which I've read parts of in his other books, and puts it all together into a cogent story. You now have the "oh, now I get it" moment to his story. As an old man now, I particularly love reading through his adventures and wish I had pushed myself earlier, but I guess living through these type stories has to be enough for now--maybe a 14er or two in Colorado might suffice! One particular aspect of the 8,000 meter peaks that Mark really makes apparent, that I have not gotten as graphically in other written literature is the fact that fatigue, a twisted ankle, a slip, or simply drifting off for a "nap" can end your life AFTER YOU'VE SUCCESSFULLY SUMMITED! WOW! I also appreciate his commentary on the media reporting on Everest; his experience clearly shows it's no cake-walk, regardless of how easily one can afford it. It can just as easily take your life, regardless of your means. Excellent book, well worth the read, regardless of whether you're a climber or not!
I am one of those people who for no reason whatsoever, are very much interested in polar exploration and extreme mountain climbing. Books like Shackleton's "South" are classics because of the very story itself, and the author. Most books in this group necessarily succeed because of their timelessness. Climbing books are more difficult to consider. While the topic again may inform us about the surprising quirks and depth of human nature, an incompetent author can ruin the story. Mr. Horrell sails very close to the wind with his sometimes adolescent humor, but his unrelenting goal to climb Everest honestly is a story to be shared.
I enjoy Mark's writing. Never met the man but he spins a good yarn and keeps me entertained throughout the book - not just this one but all his others too. If you like to read about climbing or climb yourself, I think you'll enjoy Mark's point of view. He is not flashy and appeals to normal people like me. Give him a read.
I am strictly an armchair mountaineer, but I find Horrell a balanced writer, neither glorifying nor demonizing in his climbing stories. The effort and the pleasure both come through, and he is always deeply appreciative of the support of guides and commercial teams, including Sherpa guides on Himalayan peaks.