The Dark Side of Extreme Adventure

I’m writing this post on the 4th March 2019, seven days after the British climber Tom Ballard went missing on world’s ninth-highest mountain in Pakistan. The story will have an outcome by the time you are reading this. I pray that it is a positive one.

I have only done a tiny amount of mountaineering and am in awe of what those people do. I understand and appreciate the risks they take and share some of their desire to push myself through unseen barriers towards goals and dreams that others don’t understand.

These brave men and women are often asked why they do it. They rarely give simple or easy answers. We can only speculate as to Tom’s drive to climb following his mother’s death on K2 shortly after she had become the first female to climb Everest unaided.

If you are interested in why people are drawn to these extreme experiences and the effect it has on those they love, I recommend you read

Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow: The Dark Side of Extreme Adventure

The author is Maria Coffey who’s partner Joe Tasker disappeared on the Northeast Ridge of Everest in 1982. She offers an intimate portrait of adventure and the conflicting beauty, passion, and devastation of this alluring obsession.

She interviews many of the world’s top climbers, their widows and families and explores what compels men and women to give their lives to the mountains. She reveals the consequences of loving people who pursue such risk-the exhilarating highs and inevitable lows, the stress of long separations, the constant threat of bereavement, and the lives shattered in the wake of climbing accidents.

Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow is a powerful, affecting and important book that exposes the far-reaching personal costs of extreme adventure. The book makes uncomfortable reading, but I couldn’t put it down.

Please take a moment to think about Tom and the others that have gone before.

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