Books 2008 #10 High Exposure

High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places

Yeah, I read another book about Everest. Breashears’ book isn’t just about Everest, of course, telling the story of his life up to the late 1990s; but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t pick this up solely for the chapters on his experiences on on the tallest mountain on Earth. Those chapters certainly didn’t disappoint and the nice surprise with High Exposure is how interesting the other chapters were.

As you can imagine given his curriculum vitae, Breashears has lived an interesting life and his accomplishments outside of the grad stage of Everest are a fascinating story in and of themselves. The injury he suffered sleepwalking before the filming of the Stallone feature Cliffhanger and the subsequent issues he had during the filming of said picture in the Italian Dolomites are a perfect example of that in action. He gashed himself up pretty badly and, not wanting to miss the opportunity, hid his injury from the crew while he healed up on the job.

That said, it’s the Everest chapters that I bought the book for and they’re fascinating in their honesty and, especially in regards to the tragic events of May 1996, their insight into what it takes to tackle the highest point on Earth.

As a third party not associated with any of the groups on the high slopes of the mountain at the time, he presents an interesting view of the way things unfolded. All of the accounts I’ve read and seen have been based around people on the actual expeditions. Breashears Imax group had descended in the days before to wait out the weather so he wasn’t in the thick of things during the nightmarish events of those fateful May days. That fact, and his own pragmatic view of mountaineering, allows him the distance needed to offer real insight into the tragedy that took place a dozen year ago. Which isn’t to say he’s completely detached as he had friends involved in the tragedy. He’s just not trying to work through his own culpability or guilt in the same way that colors the accounts of many of the other actors.

If you’re interested in the extremes presented by Everest and other unforgiving places and especially if, like me you’re fascinated by the tragedy the unfolded in 1996 then this is definitely worth a read.

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