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Author Topic: Book o/t month July: Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast, and High  (Read 5425 times)


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Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast, and High

by Mark F. Twight, James Martin.
Paperback: 240 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.63 x 8.99 x 7.29
Publisher: Mountaineers Books; ISBN: 0898866545; 1 Ed edition (September 1999)
(average Amazon rating: )

Mark Twight has not written an instruction book filled with clear drawings about how to tie a clove hitch. Beginning climbers looking for basic technique info should buy Mountaineering: the Freedom of the hills and go on a course first, but this does not mean that Twight's book is for extreme climbers only.

Any climber that knows these basic techniques benefits from his thoughts and experience. The book is divided in 4 parts:

(1) Approach: about 12 pages about your mental state of mind, very useful for the climber and anyone who wants to achieve specific goals as his thoughts about self-knowledge, focus, confidence, suffering, failure and learning can be applied to a broader range of goals.

(2) Training: this is the first time I have seen a real mountaineering training program in a book like this. He covers a 20 week training cycle in detail, with chapters on mental training, strength, endurance and importantly, nutrition. This really helps set a goal and work towards it. It's impossible to climb any mountain unprepared and unfit and depending on your goal you can adjust his schedule.

(3) Equipment: Clothing, Gear and Potection.
Twight has become (in)famous for refusing the accepted 3 layering system as it's too bulky, warm and heavy. He stresses the lightweight system which was an eye opener for me. Although his thoughts are not applicable for every mountain area (if you wait in Scotland for the rain to stop before climbing, you might as well not come at all...), it helped me to better pack my stuff for my trips: lighter and more useful.
His thoughts about gear are just very useful, learn from the expert, not from someone who is trying to sell the stuff...

(4) Technique:
No it will not teach you to climb a 5.14 at -40 degrees, but it covers things mostly overlooked in other books:
- Staying Alive
- Partners
- Going up
- Bivouacs
- Going down
Especially the latter 2 are things mostly ignored in climbing books (and some courses!), but these are things that also come in handy when lost in a not so extreme environment.

Overall I could not put this book down until I finished it.
The book is filled with experiences, good as well as bad. No drawings, but quite a lot of pictures, some of them useful for understanding the text, some just funny or cool to look at and dream away...
If you own Mountaineering: the Freedom of the Hills and you are not a complete beginner, buy this before you go higher, even if it's not extreme.

(Amazon has taken 30% off, now only $19,57 instead of $27,95!, clik here to order directly)
"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche
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