Monday, August 8, 2011

What It's Like to Climb Mount Everest . . . and Other Extraordinary Stories, by Jeff Belanger

Jeff Belanger probes the experiences of people in difficult situations in his What It's Like to Climb Mount Everest, Blast Off into Space, Survive a Tornado, and Other Extraordinary Stories. His book for young teens tells the story of real people who have either challenged themselves or faced challenges, such as surviving a shark attack, walking across the United States, or flying with the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds. The stories are all recent, and are told in first person. Belanger gives each tale several pages, and the protagonists are able to speak in some detail about their experiences, especially about their thoughts and feelings during their ordeals. There are color photographic illustrations throughout, and each section contains a short update or biography of each of the main characters at the end.

The Everest section details the story of Mark Inglis, the first person to climb Mount Everest with two prosthetic legs. The book actually covers both his climb on Mount Cook that cost him the lower half of his legs to frostbite as well as his later climb of Everest. He climbs Everest from Tibet via the North Col and Northeast Ridge in the pre-monsoon season of 2006. Most of the thoughts he shares could be true for any climber on Mount Everest, such as the challenges after the Second Step being as much or more mental than physical or his being overwhelmed at the sight of the mountain from the Pang La. He shares about the difficulty of descending, however, as his artificial legs are designed for uphill or flat walking. Also, he breaks a leg in a fall, but is able to patch it up with duct tape for later repairs lower on on the mountain (possibly the only advantage of a prosthesis on Mount Everest). For a more detailed account of his trip up the world's highest mountain, try High-Tech Legs on Everest, by Inglis and Sarah Ell.


  1. He climbed the mountain with artificial legs, huh? It's amazing that he climbed it twice. He really seems to love Mt. Everest. Stories like these inspire me not to give up on all the challenges that come my way.

    Harper Cosper

  2. As of today, Mark Inglis has climbed Mount Everest one time. I apologize for the imprecision in my wording.