The Boys of Everest: Chris Bonington and the Tragedy of Climbing's Greatest Generation

The Boys of Everest: Chris Bonington and the Tragedy of Climbing's Greatest Generation

by Clint Willis

The Boys of Everest tells the story of a band of climbers who reinvented mountaineering during the three decades after Everest's first ascent.

Bonington's Boys gave birth to a new brand of climbing.

Most of Bonington's Boys died in the mountains, leaving behind the hardest question of all: Was it worth it?

The Boys of Everest, based on interviews with surviving climbers and other individuals, as well as five decades of journals, expedition accounts, and letters, provides the closest thing to an answer that we'll ever have.

It offers riveting descriptions of what Bonington's Boys found in the mountains, as well as an understanding of what they lost there.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Sports
  • Rating: 3.86
  • Pages: 535
  • Publish Date: September 14th 2006 by Carroll & Graf Publishers
  • Isbn10: 0786715790
  • Isbn13: 9780786715794

What People Think about "The Boys of Everest: Chris Bonington and the Tragedy of Climbing's Greatest Generation"

Amazon recommended "The Boys of Everest." I'd heard of Mallory and Hilary, of course, but never of Chris Bonington and his "boys" (including Hamish McInnes, Don Whillans, Ian Clough, Joe Tasker, Peter Boardman, Doug Scott, etc.) Apparently, according to Clint Willis, they revolutionized climbing. I don't know how, because the book doesn't give a great deal of context. Throughout the climb, Willis intersperses the thoughts of his characters at certain points along the trek. The detail of the thoughts is almost novelistic, and you think, geez, these guys either left behind great memoirs, letters and diaries, or Willis scored some sweet interviews. Then, however, Willis starts relating the thoughts of dead men: what one climber felt as he fell off a cliff; what another sensed as he was buried by an avalanche. Indeed, an epigram at the start of the book concisely states what Willis takes 500 pages to do: "Men who go to mountains are half in love with themselves, and half in love with oblivion." The book could've used a lot more explanations of climbing tools and techniques. If you've never been to a mountain top, or had that desire, you won't understand what made these men go, even as they die one by one in the pursuit. However, if you can understand what drives these men, before you even crack the cover, then you will be treated to a strong retelling of some famous climbs (excepting, of course, Willis's recounting of their deaths, which can only be based on assumption and speculation).

Ive read several mountaineering accounts, and not just for the feats of climbing, but the internal and external personality conflicts, as well. * In the aftermath of Tonys death, one of women at the base camp notes she had begun to fear people who didnt know any easier way to be happy. Climbing techniques were changing and Chris Bonington, a constant in Willis book and known as a more than competent climber and organizer, soon realized that the techniques of mountaineering had changed.

While this is called the "Boys of Everest" and does focus to a substantial degree on the highest mountain it really is a book about a climbing generation - Bonington's boys. I found that this perspective and from someone outside the group but with real climbing knowledge, worked well for me looking at different expeditions and mountains over maybe 25/30 years.

There is no way he could know the exact sentiments or foot-placement on a non-event of a climb that happened in 1956. I agree with what everyone else criticises this book for: he writes the thoughts of people just before they die. Good fiction but Clint has written a non-fiction book so the writing is disingenuous at best and I'd argue that it's disrespectful. Furthermore I feel the book is entirely negative. Clint, motivated but hesitant to take on an endeavour idolizing those who have accomplished much more than he ever has on a mountain, sat pen in hand and forcefully decided to portray that each climber has the same love-hate relationship with climbing that leans more towards the 'hate' side(see what I did there?

Read any other climbing book, plz.

I liked this book because it gave me more detail on the technical aspects of climbing than most mountaineering tales do. Anyhow, if anyone is reading this review and can suggest other good mountain climbing tales, let me know.

The accounts are based on interviews the author conducted of surviving climbers, research at Britain's climbing clubs, and in some cases, the climbers contemporaneous journals.