If you are feeling the need to be more adventurous, books are a great way to feed your imagination. You don’t have to be planning to summit Everest, trek across the Himalaya, or solo the north face of the Eiger to be inspired by these women and their adventurous approach to life…
Catherine Destivelle, Rock Queen (2015) (First published as Ascensions, 2013): Catherine Destivelle is one of the world’s most accomplished rock climbers and alpinists, making world-leading solo winter ascents of the Eiger, the Matterhorn, and the Grand Jurasses. Her book tells how she discovered a love for the mountains as a young girl, developing her talents through bouldering, rock climbing, and eventually solo winter climbing.
A career as a professional climber presents its own challenges for a naturally introverted character. Balancing the demands of sponsors and pressure to be publicised against her own instincts, and faced with decisions about whether to enter high profile competitions or attempt hard new routes, Catherine learned to follow her passion and do what she loves to do.
Cathy O’Dowd, Just For the Love of It (Dec 13): This is Cathy O’Dowd’s story of how she became the first South African to reach the summit of Everest and the first woman to reach it from both sides. It includes absolutely gripping descriptions of alpine climbing, especially the summit attempts. Confronting the costs as well as the rewards, it gives a vivid description of the harsh reality of life at the absolute limits of human endurance and beyond.
It can feel hard to understand the motives of individuals that choose these tough experiences, but Cathy absolutely captures the atmosphere and landscape of expeditions in the Himalaya. With descriptions creating images as clear as pictures, there is no doubt that as the title says, she does it for the love of it.
Gerda Maria Pauler, Great Himalaya Trail: 1,700 Kilometers Across the Roof of the World (Oct 13): This book is about Gerda Pauler’s hike of the Great Himalaya Trail, 1,700 kilometers on foot across Nepal to raise awareness for the charity Autism Care Nepal. Despite her humorous descriptions of the journey, this is a serious undertaking requiring stregth of character and positive thinking. Crossing many high passes, some at altitudes of over 6,100m, every extreme of weather is encountered as well as the dangers of route finding, rockfall, and avalanche.
Taking four months to complete her adventure, Gerda is immersed in the local culture. Having visited the area over a period of 25 years she records her keen observations of the people she meets along the way, in particular the children and women. Changes are occuring, and there is a fine balance in delivering improvements in education and infrastructure that come with tourism and economic development while preserving the unique cultures and traditions of Nepal.