Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey - Goran Kropp

The Basics: Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey, Goran Kropp with David Lagercrantz, 1999, 227 pages, paperback

How I found it: This book was lying around my parents house. It's likely that it belongs to my dad.

What's it about?: Kropp was a mountaineer from Sweden who decided to climb Everest in a manner that he felt was the "purest" way to do it. This involved biking from Sweden to base camp with all of the gear and food he would need on the climb. He then attempted to climb the mountain using only his own gear, and food, using no fixed ropes or porters, and no bottled oxygen. Kropp climbed in 1996, the famous disaster year chronicled most famously in Krakauer's Into Thin Air, and several other books (I've read pretty much all of them). His climb ended up getting put on hold as the crisis unfolded.

Did I like it?: I've read a lot of mountaineering books and there are really two kinds of mountaineers: the normal ones and the crazy ones. Kropp was a crazy one. His dedication to his training was fanatical. He seems to have been quick tempered. But his journey is an interesting read as he has his own insight into the 1996 Everest season and other general mountaineering topics. In general, this was a fairly average read for a mountaineering book and not particularly great. However, it is by no means bad.

Will you like it?: There are much better mountaineering books, and even much better Everest books than this one. However, the "pure" way in which Kropp chose to climb is vaguely intriguing. Kropp also had aspirations to be a full time adventurer on the scale of Colin Angus. After his trip to Everest and back, he skiied to the north pole and had plans to sail to Antarctica from Sweden, ski to the pole, then sail back. However, Kropp died in a rock climbing accident in 2002 so this book is the only documentation of an adventuring career that never got off the ground.

But don't take my word for it: The usual reader reviews from and publishers blurbs Amazon, a review from the Denver Post, and one from the New York Times are all I could find.

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