Friday, 22 April 2011

My Beloved Book - The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer

Anybody that knows me can vouch for the fact that I do not come across as someone that loves to climb, but after I was recently lent Harrer's wonderful (I'm not sure if that is the right word) book, I have felt a shift in my life. In many ways The White Spider can be a life changing book, it is what sparked Joe Simpson's love of mountains, but more than that it inspires life. Scaling vast mountains is very often incredibly dangerous, and Harrer's writing really unpicks a climber's mind, so others can understand that what drives them to attempt such huge feats.
Death and success sit side by side in The White Spider, as tragedy and triumph are acknowledged in equal measure. The perils that face even the modern climber on the North Face of the Eiger are all depicted, but so are the great stories of man overcoming adversity. Some of the best tales are not of completing the climb but of rescue missions that saved lives, and what a man can do when one of his comrades is in danger.
For me, The White Spider is not a scary or gruesome tale of woe, it is an epic that repeatedly demonstrates the power of man. After reading it I feel a step closer to understanding why people put their life in the hands of a single rope, and why they pursue with great determination names on maps. These people are not overtly pulled towards danger. The true climber is drawn towards life and the pursuit of purity.

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