Eiger Dreams – Jon Krakauer

Eiger Dreams - Jon KrakauerThe Mountain Library rating: ★★★★

Published: 1990
Reading style:
Easy going, at times funny, always engaging
Images: No

Eiger Dreams – ventures among men and mountains, is a collection of author Jon Krakauer’s articles and essays, mostly about climbing, taken from contributions he made to magazines such as Outside, between 1982 and 1989. It traverses renowned climbs and locations throughout Europe, North America and the Himalaya with Krakauer’s usual humour and smooth, informative writing style.

Lasting memory:

Krakauer’s descriptive style coupled with a good deal of introspection and humour, make him one of the standout mountain authors in my view. This is especially true in the final chapter of the Eiger Dreams collection, The Devils Thumb. His account of strapping curtain rods to his pack, crucifix like, in an attempt to save him from falling into crevasses on the Baird Glacier, on route to the Devils Thumb in Alaska, is classic.

In Seattle…I’d stopped at a hardwear store and purchased a pair of stout aluminium curtain rods, each ten feet long. Upon reaching the snowline, I lashed the rods together at right angles, then strapped the arrangement to the hip belt on my backpack…bearing the queer tin cross, I felt like some kind of strange Penitente.

And it worked!

A little later I broke through another bridge to my waist; the poles kept me out of the hundred-foot hole, but after I extricated myself I was bent double with dry heaves thinking about what it would be like to be lying in a  pile at the bottom of the crevasse…

What the publisher says (back cover text):

In this collection of his writings on mountaineering, Jon Krakauer spirits the reader to the highest reaches of some of the greatest mountains of the world, K2, Mt. McKinley and the Eiger, immersing us in the culture of climbing and introducing the men and women who spend their lives in quest to conquer these peaks.

Filled with the eccentric characters of the mountaineering community who live for the thrill of dicing with death, these pieces include such diverse activities as scaling frozen waterfalls in Alaska, canyoneering in Arizona, and an amusing digression on how to survive being tent bound. Together these tales give a fascinating insight into the attraction of high-risk sports. Krakauer’s first-hand and intimate accounts takes s right to the mountains themselves to experience both the thrills and terrors of climbing.

The Mountain Library - The Devil's Thumb, Alaska

The Devil’s Thumb, Alaska ( Photo © Chip Porter – http://www.mistyfjordsair.com)

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