Ian Murray MP on 'battling the grand old dame'
Written by Cultureon 22 February 2013 in
This article is from the March 2013 issue of Total Politics
It’s amazing how the enjoyment of any book or author is enhanced by the context in which it is read. I first read the true story of The Climb whilst in Kathmandu, Nepal, on a trip to set up a charity link to help build schools.
I was staying with a friend who introduced me to an Everest climbing veteran, Kit Spencer, who had guided dozens of explorers up Sagarmatha and reached the summit numerous times himself.
I was fascinated by his stories of battling the grand old dame. He recommended I read The Climb, which was a true story of success, tragedy and heroism.
It recounts one of the most amazing rescues in Everest’s history. In 1996, the Russian head guide, Anatoli Boukreev, saves the lives of six of his clients as crowded conditions, bad judgement and a bitter storm left many climbers for dead. Boukreev himself died in an avalanche on Annapurna in 1997.
The book is gripping and it is wonderfully well written with eye-witness accounts. I was left thinking how all people become equal in the inhospitable conditions of 28,500ft. This was a crisis partially created by blind ambition, and fuelled by wealth that created an expedition fated from the beginning to end in disaster.
Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South