One Mans Everest by Kenton Cool reviewed

One Man's Everest Book Cover One Man's Everest
Kenton Cool
Non fiction
April 21, 2016

Kenton Cool is the finest alpine climber of this generation. His accomplishments are staggering. He has summited Everest eleven times. He is the first person in history to climb the three Everest peaks, the so-called Triple Crown, in one climb, a feat previously thought impossible. He was nominated for the prestigious piolet d'Or in 2004 for climbing a previously unclimbed route on Annapurna III. In 2012 he fulfilled the Olympic Games pledge of placing a 1924 gold medal on the Everest summit. He is the only Briton to have skied down two 8000-metre mountains, and in 2009 he guided Sir Ranulph Fiennes to the summit of Everest, helping to raise over £3 million for Marie Curie Cancer Care. His accomplishments are all the more extraordinary considering an incident in the summer of 1996 which tore Kenton's world apart. Whilst climbing in Wales, he broke a handhold on a route aptly called 'Major Headstress' and fell to the ground with such force that he shattered both his heel bones. Initially told he would never walk unaided again, Kenton spent four weeks in hospital, had three operations, three and a half months in a wheelchair and months of rehab. Today he is still in pain and after a long day in the mountains it's not uncommon to see him struggling to walk or moving around on his hands and knees. Yet he still climbs. 'Why do you do it?' people ask him. This book tells why.

This book by Kenton Cool starts with an excellent prologue giving a vivid view of just what it is like to stand on the summit of Everest. From the book looks at various parts of Kenton Cool’s life. The youthful exploits are endearing mostly though might well have been seen as irritating by others – young climbers really can be a breed apart! His early injury to his heels made for a powerful read and can only leave with considerable respect for the man. I found it entertaining but it is not a real climbing book more an autobiographical maybe; it lacks some detail of the actual climbs compared to many similar books I’ve read. However what is there is frequently very interesting; as an example there is an up to date view of Everest base camp & life there. I did like his explanation and discussion of the “bloody rat” that gnaws at climbers driving them on.

For fans of climbing literature this is probably one to read. It is not a blow by blow account of Kenton’s climbs although it gives an overview and maybe a little more of a number of them. It is not really a biography as it only covers limited periods of his life. It does look carefully, and to me sensibly, at the philosophy of making a living at climbing. Equally the issues involved in guiding clients who can pay to be taken up Everest and the like. It’s written well enough and I certainly enjoyed reading it. It has a sensible glossary of climbing terms.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review