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Mountain Madnessby Robert Birkby
Synopses & Reviews
"You're either cruisin' or you're bummin', so you might as well cruise." — Scott Fischer
Mountain climber Scott Fischer's mantra would lead him to scale the highest and most treacherous peaks on earth. Best known as one of the guides who perished near the summit of Mount Everest during the tragic spring of 1996, Scott Fischer became for many an iconic symbol of audacity, hubris, and the limits of human endurance. But to those who knew him well, Scott was much more than an action figure at the heart of a modern-day cautionary tale. Now in this vivid, candid biography, Robert Birkby — one of Scott's close friends — gives us a fascinating, in-depth portrait of who Scott Fischer really was and what led him to the top of the world.
As a teenage athlete growing up in New Jersey, Scott felt a restless drive to reach beyond the limits of his suburban environment. He discovered the freedom he sought during summers in the rugged mountains of Wyoming. A natural mountaineer blessed with tremendous physical strength and willpower, Scott thrived on the challenges of climbing, the beauty of the high country, and the like-minded people he found there. With the creation of a guide service he called Mountain Madness, Scott meshed his need to climb with his joy in sharing with others the lofty, rarified realms he had made his own.
In adrenaline-filled narratives that take us to the world's tallest places, Robert Birkby traces the expeditions that made Scott one of the most respected climbers of the close-knit mountaineering community. From Alaska to the Soviet Union, from the granite walls of Yosemite to the punishing storms of the Himalayas, Scott's achievements are hair-raising, inspiring, and always exhilarating — a relentless quest for new highs that builds inexorably to the rendezvous with disaster on Everest.
Scott's life was a journey filled with adventures, deep friendships, and dramatic successes and failures in the obscure reaches of some of the world's most beautiful and dangerous places. A captivating homage to a man who eagerly went where few dare to go, Mountain Madness is an extraordinary account of courage, passion, and extreme living.
"Mountaineer Scott Fischer and outdoors expert Birkby (author of trail maintenance standard Lightly on the Land) were friends and trekking companions from their 1982 meeting until Fischer's tragic, controversial death on a 1996 expedition up Everest, leading a tour group from his Mountain Madness adventure travel business (from which his clients all descended safely). Combining his memories with those of Fischer's family, friends, fellow mountaineers and other alumni of the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyo., where Fischer worked, Birkby chronicles Fischer from his New Jersey childhood through his years teaching with NOLS, his drive to perfect his skills and reach the highest peaks, and the struggles to establish his travel company. The obsession indicated by the title is what Birkby most wrestles with, attempting to understand the passion that drove Fischer higher and higher; especially in his climbing scenes, Birkby succeeds in illuminating the power mountains can exert over the human soul. He's also adept at capturing powerful ties of love and friendship, of which Fischer had plenty; his charisma, charm and open embrace of adventure suffuse the narrative. This warm remembrance should strike a powerful chord not just in climbers, but in anyone who has lost a dear friend to untimely death. 16 pages of color photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Bob Birkby has lovingly researched Scott Fischer's life to create a vivid portrait of a superb athlete whose love of mountain-climbing drove everything he did. My six years of friendship with Scott were some of the most memorable moments of my life. The world is a poorer place without Scott in it. But thanks to Bob Birkby's compelling biography, readers will be able to appreciate Scott in a wonderfully personal way." Ed Viesturs, author of No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks
"Scott had one adventure after another after another. Most of us have an occasional big adventure, but it's not this continuous series. Who does that? Nobody. Most of us are so conservative. But not Scott." Stacy Allison, the first American woman to climb Mount Everest and author of Beyond the Limits: A Woman's Triumph on Everest
"Scott Fischer's wild ride of a life culminated in a set of decisions and circumstances that ended in tragedy on Mount Everest in 1996. Robert Birkby's biography offers the reader a captivating look at the man and the experiences that led up to that fateful day." Phil Powers, Executive Director of the American Alpine Club and owner of Jackson Hole Mountain Guides
"A fitting homage to one of the great outdoor extremists." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Robert Birkby, a wilderness crew leader with the Student Conservation Association, is the author of numerous books on the outdoors. His Lightly on the Land, called "the definitive trail maintenance manual" by the Washington Trails Association, is considered the bible on traditional and contemporary backcountry work skills. He lives in Seattle. Please visit his website, www.robertbirkby.com.
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