My Life in Climb­ing

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Ueli Steck Moun­taineers Books

Ueli Steck’s largely tran­scribed au­to­bi­og­ra­phy will not give you any de­tails about how he came to be one of the great­est alpin­ists of his gen­er­a­tion. The climber of this book ap­pears fully formed from the first page. You will learn that he solo climbed the North Face of the Eiger twice while mon­i­tor­ing his heart rate and rate of as­cent in me­tres per hour the way a pro­fes­sional cy­clist would. You will won­der how it’s pos­si­ble to be so well con­di­tioned and so seem­ingly fear­less. You may even be in­spired to adapt the in­no­va­tions of ul­tra-run­ning to the prac­tice moun­taineer­ing. While he lived, Ueli cer­tainly thought you should.

My Life in Climb­ing takes the reader from a com­mer­cial climb up Ever­est con­ceived of as a fit­ness out­ing to Steck’s pos­si­bil­ity-de­fy­ing solo of the South Face of Mount An­na­purna and then back to the Alps to climb its eighty high­est peaks in a sin­gle out­ing. It’s the pro­file of a climber ex­plor­ing the outer lim­its of per­for­mance in the moun­tains in ways that mir­ror the ap­proach taken by Alex Hon­nold on rock. Oddly but not amus­ingly, the near-death ex­pe­ri­ence that Steck de­scribes most vividly oc­curs dur­ing a con­fronta­tion with Sher­pas dur­ing the course of an ex­pe­di­tion.

The premise that Steck ad­heres to through­out the book is one of deep ac­cep­tance of mor­tal­ity and the re­wards made pos­si­ble by ac­cept­ing a higher de­gree of risk made pos­si­ble by an un­com­pro­mis­ing ap­proach to train­ing.—Tom Valis

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