349 pages, no illustrations
A memoir of extraordinary depth and searing honesty,The Hillary Step is the story of Peter Hillary's physical and emotional journey across the icy wastes of Antarctica. A place where the thoughts and memories of a lifetime were called forth by the blank slate of the Antarctic snows - so real that the ghosts of friends and loved ones walked with Hillary in the white maelstrom. During the three-month-long expedition, Hillary and his two companions skied 900 miles across the forbidding and beautiful expanse of Antarctica to the South Pole. Early on, the relationships to the little tent disintegrated to acrimony and distrust, and exploded on their return, damaging friendships and resulting in profound soul-searching. This is the story of that journey: a chronicle of profound isolation, of great stamina and skill, of the mental and emotional toll exacted by travel in extreme environments. It is also a meditation on a lifetime spent on the edge, a memory book of more than 30 expeditions in the Himalayas, the Andes, the Arctic and the Antarctic. It tells of triumphant adventures - travelling with his father, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Neil Armstrong to the North Pole, climbing Everest twice - and bitter tragedies, like the loss of his mother and sister in a plane crash in the Himalayas, and the shattering K2 climb where Peter was the only one of eight climbers (including Alison Hargreaves) to survive. The Hillary Step is a radical departure from the adventure genre, a literate and evocative tribute to the crafts of polar travel and mountaineering, a Shackleton-like tale of endurance, and a compelling contemplation on a life of adventure adn accomplishment.
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