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Monday
Apr242017

One Day as a Tiger: Alex MacIntyre and the Birth of Light and Fast Alpinism by John Porter

Why I read this book:

I'm a fan of the Banff film festival and often look to their written category finalists for reading material. I bought One Day as a Tiger by John Porter nearly 2 years ago after the first of my first child to read. Alpine style mountaineering is impressive and when done right can be a relatively safe way to climb high peaks. When done poorly, it is a recipe for disaster.

My one sentence summary:

The first and evolution of Alpine style mountaineering seen through the life of one of its pioneers.

Kudos:

I have a natural affinity for mountaineering books that tell a story and transport the reader onto those perilous slopes that have showcased the height of human ingenuity and athleticism as well as the most devastating tragedies in sports. One Day As a Tiger by John Porter excels at both capturing the history of Alpism mountaineering and those involved in the pursuit of peaks through faster and lighter travel than their mountaineering fore-fathers. Porter mixes in personal stories with the often harsh realities of mountaineering behind the Iron Curtain and with ever evolving equipment. The reader really gets a sense of who Alex MacIntyre was, for better or worse, and the closeness of the mountaineering community despite its competitiveness. The tales of bribing officials and back door dealing just to get to the foot of a mountain that no one - or few - had climb is truly a testament to the determination of these adventurers. Let alone the perilous journeys and failures to reach the summits, which I eagerly read.

Quibbles:

It took me almost two years to read this book. However, that is more a reflection of my busy life and desire to take in every word rather than a lack of writing skill on Porter's part. There is a bit of a meandering quality to this book, much like the unexplored path to the top of a mountain. But I was never disappointed in the view.

Final verdict:

This is a high recommend for anyone interested in mountaineering development and the people who often sacrificed life, limb or relationships in the pursuit of the climb. The often asked question is posed at the end of the book. Why climb that mountain? As always, the answer comes down to Mallory's reply 'Because it is there'.

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