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Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast & High

by Mark F. Twight and James Martin

The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1999; 240 pages;

 

“The first time I went climbing with Twight, I was startled by his extremely well thought-out protection, secure anchors and positive mountain awareness. I've climbed with few people who understand the mountains and the physics of gear as well as Twight, and that understanding shows up on every page of this book. Even if you don't want to push yourself to the same level that Twight has, Extreme Alpinism gives pointers applicable to anyone who travels in the mountains. (…)
Extreme Alpinism also educates and entertains with a dozen or so Twight anecdotes that help illustrate points on systems information (anchors, speed, cooking, gear). The stories are told well, as though the reader were sitting in a bar with a well-lubricated Twight. You can read about helmet statistics forever, but "Why Helmets Are A Good Idea", accompanied by a great shot of a shorter-necked, post-icicle Twight, drive the idea home. Co-author James Martin's organizational assistance and photographs help synthesize Twight's encyclopedic, but occasionally rambling, information into an easily understood package.”
Will Gadd, “Rock & Ice” 2000, February, No 98, p. 125

 

“The book is simply divided in four sections. The first is about the attitude and character needed for this most psychological demanding of avocations. He stresses the need for self-analysis and the ability to be able to keep learning. He's a fan of will and suffering; that's all very well but for a different approach by a more successful high altitude climber I would recommend reading Doug Scott's appendices in his and Alex Mclntyre's book on Shishapangma.
The second section is devoted to training and covers all the usual stuff about relaxation, visualization, nutrition and recovery. Frankly this all bores the arse off me but I suppose some people might find it of value. (…)
Then there's another big section on equipment. This is the section to have read before going to have an argument in your local climbing shop. Twight bashes into the 'myths' surrounding layering systems and the Gore-Tex marketing juggernaut. It's all interesting stuff but is, of course, likely to be the part of the book which gets dated quickest. (…)
The biggest section of the book is on technique and covers everything from how to equalize an anchor to how to bivouac. For most experienced climbers this will be familiar but it does have the advantage of making the book much more accessible to novices and I'm sure that everyone who reads it would gain some insights.
The photos are good, even though some do seem to come from the 'French sponsored superstar' school of hero photography. For me, the ones high on the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat and the northern flanks of Everest sum up the commitment he has put into his life.”
Jon Tinker, „High” 2000, January, No 206, p. 65

 

Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light, Fast, & High  is a very different sort of alpine climbing manual. A glance through the index is proof enough: you'll find no listings here for self-arrest, knots, or French technique. But you will find references for "fear," "death," and "experience and learning (see also maturity)." That last one says it all. Throughout all the pain, suffering, and ass-kickings that Twight has endured — whether on extreme climbs or self-inflicted — he has been paying attention, learning, formulating. This book lays it all out: what works, what doesn't, what matters, what doesn't, what's real, what's a lie. (…)
As to the meat of Twight's message, everyone from the hardened extremist to the aspiring tiger to the weekend punter will learn from this book. (…)
Perhaps the greatest indication of Twight's maturity — and the greatest disappointment to his fan base — is that the book concludes with an apology. It's not what you'd expect from Doctor Doom: no cocky suggestions about what you can do with this book if you don't like it, no self-flagellation about not having suffered enough while writing it, no remorse about having sold his secrets to an unworthy audience. Instead, Twight offers a candid and introspective examination of how he came to be associated with so much altitude, and how, through the methods and experiences gathered in this book, he has been transformed. It makes one wonder whether James Dean, had he lived, might one day have shown up in public service announcements cautioning teenagers about smoking and driving fast cars.”
David Pagel, “Climbing” 2000, May 1, No 194, p. 82-83

 

 

 
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