Friday, December 23, 2011

Wind From a Distant Summit

WIND FROM A DISTANT SUMMIT. The story of New Zealand’s leading woman mountaineer. By Pat Deavoll. Pp 264, paperback, 29 colour and 2 b/w photos, 2011. (Craig Cotton Publishing, New Zealand, NZ$ 39.99)

The subtitle of the book is a misnomer since Pat is one of the world’s top all round alpinist today redefining boundaries and breaking barriers of mind, body and soul in the vertical arena of high mountains. Of her climbing prowess, iron will and reckless passion the mountaineering world is aware but who would have imagined that she wielded equal finesse and grace with her pen! That too when she could only finish it due to the publisher’s deadline. I am not known for embellishments but for Pat’s book the only word I have is ‘unputdownable’ and even then it is an understatement. I am not sure if writing this book was a redefining period in Pat’s life but for the reader it would surely be a redefining experience as we climb sheer virgin faces of rock and ice with Pat, often fragile, broken, on the verge of collapse and all angled at gravity and death-defying dimensions. Was I glad that I was only accompanying Pat vicariously, sometimes inside her rucksack, sometime riding her helmet, peering down white walls of glistening ice into the rugged wastelands of Alaska, Canadian Rockies, Karakoram, Himalaya, Tibet, Central Asia, and her very own Southern Alps, where she learnt her ropes and holds.