Contemplating the sheer peril of climbing Mt. Everest, the first thought that comes to my mind is: Danger! When reading To the Top of Everest by Laurie Skreslet with Elizabeth MacLeod, the realization of how dangerous it can be to tackle the world's highest peak becomes more and more vivid. Of every three climbers who set out, only two returned alive is one of the startling facts in Skreslet's first-hand narrative. Chapter by chapter, the reader learns the necessity of preparation and the drudgery it takes to reach the apex of Mt. Everest. Some of the strongest messages of To the Top of Everestare revealed through the photographs. A writer can always try to describe Mt. Everest, but in some cases, as Aldous Huxley once said, words fail to enlighten. Mt. Everest is so large that it is impossible to imagine. Most people who read this book will have virtually no climbing experience. So, seeing photos of ice screws that help to anchor the climber securely, candid shots of the way climbers pack their food and the specially designed tents they must use, help support Skreslet's account.
In conjunction with the photographs, blue boxes frame the borders of the page with clear, brief explanations of the intricate details of the journey to the peak. They include interesting and sometimes odd information, such as the challenges of going to the bathroom in freezing climates.
One unexpected attribute of To the Top of Everest is the respect that Skreslet gives to the mountain itself. He and his team of Canadian comrades lead an expedition not to conquer the mountain, but to feel its power. There, they climb with Sherpas, the natives who live near the mountain and who refer to Mt. Everest as Mother Goddess of the Earth. Before taking on the climb, and in an additional way of honoring Mt. Everest, Skreslet and his team attend a Buddhist prayer service as a final rite of passage.
To the Top of Everest not only provides a step-by-step account of the perils of Mt. Everest, but also encouragement to readers about life's many twists and turns.
Hunter Foreman, 16, enjoys reading contemporary literature and poetry.