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Kid Who Climbed Everest: The Incredible Story Of A 23-Year-Old’s Summit Of Mt. Everest

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In 1996, a twenty-three-year-old soldier in the British Army was once flying over an African desert on a routine parachute jump. He had a lot to look forward to-a long career ahead of him in the army, a beautiful girlfriend back home. But those dreams were cut short when his parachute failed to open at eleven thousand feet. He had cracked three vertebrae and come within a fraction of severing his spinal cord. A grueling eight months of physical therapy followed. Bear had to retrain his muscles to do all the things we take as a right-how to sit down, stand, walk, even breathe. Eighteen months after his accident he overcame fantastic odds to achieve the peak of Everest.

THE KID WHO CLIMBED EVEREST is a tale of courage and determination. Bear’s quest for funding for his expedition, his seventy days on Everest’s southeast face, and a narrow brush with death after a fall into a crevasse at nineteen thousand feet, make the story an essential read for anyone who’s ever had a dream and made it come true.

“Everest,” writes British climber Bear Grylls, “is no place to prove yourself. The likelihood of reaching the summit is so slim that you are inevitably setting yourself up to be disappointed.”

But, Grylls continues, mountains are most definitely an arena where alpinists express their deepest drives, and he had more ambition than most. Badly injured in a parachuting accident in 1996, he resigned his army commission and cast about for a new career–a decision he succeeded in putting off by enlisting in a climbing expedition to the world’s tallest mountain. Now, Grylls points out, the odds of a well-conditioned climber’s making the summit of Everest are something like one in a hundred; for climbers under the age of 30, who lack the experience and conditioning that age brings, those odds slim down to 1 in 1,000. Twenty-three at the time, Grylls took his chances nonetheless, despite the “sinking feeling that I had just made a commitment that was once going to drag me a little too far out of my comfort zone.”

He fulfilled his commitment, though surely not without discomfort, scared but made up our minds, making his way up deadly obstacles such as the Lhotse Face Icewall and its deep crevasses. Other climbers were not so lucky, he writes in this you-are-there account of his time on the mountain, and death is a constant presence on these pages–which may deter readers who are seeking for to follow in his footholds. For those content to trip up sheer rock and ice walls vicariously, though, Grylls’s book is a spirited exercise in adventure writing and a promising debut. –Gregory McNamee

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