“Nine Lives” by Robert Mads Anderson, published by Bateman. Price $39.99. Reviewed by Tony Orman
Robert Mads Anderson is irresistibly drawn to – some might say even addicted – mountains and mountaineering. He loves the challenges and the teamwork and fellowship of mountaineering parties. But there’s some deeper intangible impulse – perhaps a daring flirtation with the risks and dangers of the world’s highest mountains.
Mt. Everest is the dominating central figure in mountaineer author Robert Mads Anderson’s 4th book in which he tells of his nine expeditions spanning 18 years to the world’s highest peak.
The mountain is a dangerous place to be. Indeed the author was nearly killed on his first expedition. He was not deterred and went on to lead a team up a new route on the Kangshung Face without oxygen or Sherpa support and climbed solo on the remote North Face and finally guided a team to the top of the world.
Often it’s death defying stuff. The author writes “being safe in the mountains, the high mountains— and specifically Everest, just wasn’t really possible.”
Following the death of a fellow mountaineer, he writes “we never questioned returning to the mountain after his death—we knew the mountains were dangerous—we still lived he mountains and wanted to climb to the top of the world.”
And he and two others did and finally stood on top.
“Then the summit, that joyous amazing place. Dancing alone on the summit, striding from side to side, the highest person in the world.”
“There I was standing on top of the world.—-A slow turn revealed the whole world. I felt as connected to the sky above as the earth below.”
But it’s not easily accomplished- far from it.
There’s avalanches that show no mercy in their sudden ferocity and icy winds and cold, cold temperatures. Robert Mads Anderson paints the perils with vivid writing. “I can’t eat, the cold has frozen me inside out—I know I have frostbite. Frostbite on top of frost bite—water is a brick in my water bottle.-“
“I must think, yet I have a headache, a leg ache, a body ache. I am whimpering a little—.”
The 204 page narratives in often gripping fashion, depict the challenges, the harsh mental and physical challenges and punishment and achievements, pursung an ambition of being on top of the world.
Thirty-two pages of colour photos capture the raw beauty of the Himalayas.
“Nine Lives”is a brilliant book, absorbing and often riveting with the inevitable dangers of mountaineering and sweet successes graphically described.