To the Greatest Heights: Facing Danger, Finding Humility, and Climbing a Mountain of Truth by Vanessa O’Brien is a memoir of this world record breaking explorer. Ms. O’Brien is the first American woman and British woman (dual citizenship) to climb K2, and climbed the highest peak in every continent in 295 days, a world record.
- 368 pages
- Publisher : Atria/Emily Bestler Books
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1982123788
Ms. O’Brien certainly has accomplished a lot in her life. She holds several world records, have met many interesting people, has a supporting husband, sponsors, does what she wants and when she wants.
To the Greatest Heights: Facing Danger, Finding Humility, and Climbing a Mountain of Truth by Vanessa O’Brien (book website) tells of the authors successful attempts at the Seven Summits Challenge and the Explorers Grand Slam (climb the seven summits and reach the North and South poles). Along the way, Ms. O’Brien talks about her past, and her life philosophy.
I really enjoyed the parts where the author writes about mountaineering, obviously her passion. She makes interesting observations and doesn’t skip the bad or difficult parts. There is a lot of information in this book about subjects I haven’t read about in other books. What does it feel like being in close quarters with a stranger, the smell of unwashed bodies weeks on end, why there no, or very little, sex on expeditions, and what happened when you get sick – among others.
The author complains quite a bit, but I thought that was the charm of the book, and she took responsibility, not putting the blame on others (most of the time). I love to travel, or just “go places” and often times the things to go wrong make the trip more memorable.
Ms. O’Brien also tells of her climb to the top of K2, a notoriously difficult task. This climb was one of her most proud achievements, and rightly so it is a major part of this book.
The connections the author tries to make between the mountaineering world and the corporate world seem forced. I get that this is a bouncing board for paid speech gigs, but I enjoyed reading about the mountaineering much more.
People often forgot to credit luck and privilege for their success (which doesn’t take anything away from your hard work). I got the feeling that Vanessa O’Brien knows she’s lucky, but forgot privileged. She made a ton of money, or so it seems, early on in her career, furthermore her husband has to make good money to support her hobby. Accordingly, most people can’t comprehend to spend $50K – $70K on …. well… anything besides a house. Yes, she had to skimp and save here and there, but that’s still a chunk of change for the vast majority of people.
And yes, that is jealousy talking!
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
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