Friday, December 04, 2009

An inspiring read!

Don't be fooled by the gentle artwork on the cover and the wistful sounding title. Here's a wonderful book for anyone who is interested in serious high altitude mountaineering, epic adventure, triumph, and tragedy...and who doesn't mind having their heart moved just a little (or a lot). Certainly works for me.

Always in search of a non-fiction book that promotes the flow of adrenaline, this one caught my eye. The cover art is very appealing, the author's surname is Lowe-Anker, and Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild and Into Thin Air) wrote the forward - so what's not to like about that?! I didn't, in fact, even bother cracking the cover before heading for the cash register - the names on the front cover promised that this would be a great read!

Jennifer Lowe-Anker is a visual artist, climber, and widow of Alex Lowe, thought to be the finest mountaineer of his generation. Lowe died in 1999 in an avalanche on Shishapangma in Tibet. It is no small tribute that, following his death, Outside Magazine described him as "the world's greatest climber". Conrad Anker, another world class mountaineer and climber ("mixed" terrain - rock and ice) and best friend of Lowe, gained fame as the one who discovered the body of George Mallory on Everest the same year. (George Mallory was the English climber who disappeared, along with his partner, Andrew Irvine, on their attempt to summit Everest in 1924. Their last position was just several hundred metres from the summit - no one can be really sure if they, in fact, made the summit.)

As the back cover promises, Forget Me Not, is "an adventurous and insightful memoir, a timeless story about the often complicated, yet ultimately transformative, power of love." For me, it's tough, gritty, heartrending, hopeful, inspiring - pretty much everything that you feel when the desire for epic adventure and the love of life intersects with human vulnerability.

Anyone who enjoys self-propelled sports (vicariously or otherwise) will surely enjoy the experience of accompanying Jennifer Lowe-Anker on this tumultuous journey to the summits of the highest mountains and through the valleys of deepest despair. In the end, it's all about hope - and never giving up on life or in life. I think that's a good message for most of us.


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