Monday, 25 May 2015

Book Review: The True Peruvian Route by Mark Horrell

Mountaineering is an activity where true elation and deep disappointment thrive in equal measure. Nothing exemplifies this more than the story of Mark Horrell's two attempts on Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the world outside Asia, and one of the Seven Summits. This is the story of the second happier half.

In 2005 the author set off up the Normal Route on Aconcagua's western side, possibly one of the most boring routes on a big mountain anywhere in the world. He spent several weeks staring up a huge featureless scree slope, before giving up much too easily on a cold summit day at the instigation of an over-cautious guide who didn't seem particularly bothered about reaching the summit.

In 2010 he tried the other side of the mountain, a much more interesting climb, and was privileged to be guided by a man who had climbed the mountain more times than any other. It soon became clear to him that you don't get a record like that unless you really care about getting to the top every time you set foot on the mountain.

It was an altogether different experience, and one with many happy memories. The True Peruvian Route is the author's travel journal from his expedition, and will be a valuable reference to anyone who is thinking of climbing South America's highest mountain with a commercial tour operator, or anyone with an interest in mountaineering and the Seven Summits (highest mountains on each continent) in general. The book includes many photographs of the trek and climb.

My Review:
Mark is on a trek in South America to climb the tallest mountain on the continent-Aconcagua. It is the tallest mountain in the world that you can just walk up, making it very popular with trekkers. He is keen on doing the faster Polish Glacier Route but that plan is aborted because conditions are too dangerous and Mark has to go with the tourist route instead.

The biggest worry on this trip is the dreaded poo bag. You are not allowed to leave human waste on the mountain so all climbers have to wrap it up and take it away with them. Mark is all too awate that a crampon or ice axe accident could rupture that poo bag...There is the usual humour to this trek diary with the big discussion being about the base camp doctors on the trip who insisted on giving everyone a medical examination before allowing them to climb, the interference that climbers are not greatly keen on. Mark also discovers that their guide is responsible for the new route on the mountain and decides to name it accordingly.

Enjoyable read.  

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