He's a young kid, still a teenager when he wrote this book, but it's a really compelling read. He tried and failed to be the youngester person to climb Everest, and after reading it you might think his parents are crazy to let him attempt it. Still, a good adventure story with lots of climbing details. And he was there on the mountain in 1996 when the disaster of "Into Thin Air" happened.
"May 10, 1996 -
Sixteen-year-old Mark Pfetzer huddles in his tent at 26,000 ft., waiting for his turn to attempt Everest's summit.
As a fierce storm descends on the camp, a frightening realization dawns on Mark and his colleagues: many of the climbers who summitted that afternoon have not yet returned.
By morning, the storm has claimed eight lives - and Mark's long-dreamed-of summit day has become one of the bleakest days in mountaineering history.
This is Mark's fascinating first-person account of his Everest experience..."
Karen F. reviewed Within Reach: My Everest Story on
From Loyal Books Blog:
There are so many things I liked about this autobiography of Mark Pfetzer, and a few things I wouldnt have missed if they had been left out (see Flags). Within Reach, written in 1999, tells the story of a teenager who dreams of climbing Mt. Everest. His motivation is not to break a record, although that comes into the picture, his goal is simply to accomplish a difficult goal.
Mark is an intelligent high school student who prefers solitary activities in nature over team sports. For that simple fact alone, I think many young men would be interested in his story. Mark provides a roll model for boys who perhaps dont fit the usual school athlete mold. Marks interests and athleticism is focused on activities like canoeing, hunting, camping, and rock climbing. At the age of twelve he is taking advanced rock climbing courses with much older kids.
Another thing I like about this book is the incredible initiative the author shows at a young age. As a teenager he has figured out that if he wants to pursue a goal, it will take hard work and commitment. He doesnt expect his parents to do the work or hand him success. Mark gets the bug to climb big mountains at the age of twelve. His parents support his pursuits as long as he shows the initiative to get professional instruction and earns the money to buy good equipment.
At thirteen Mark reads a book about ascending Mt. Everest and sets upon a journey to do the same. Once again his parents say they will support him, but he must do the work to raise money, get expert training, and get permission from his principal to miss three weeks of school.
If you are at all familiar with the scope of climbing Mt. Everest, you understand that the best training is climbing smaller peaks, so Marks quest for Everest begins with two years of climbing peaks such as Mount Pisco, Huascaran, Cotopaxi, and Aconcagua. Each of these climbs is part of the progression to Mt Everest. The associated travel experiences teach Mark how to navigate, and appreciate, other cultures.
There is good amount of detail in this book for readers who are interested in the world of mountain climbing. Enough technical information is shared about gear, climbing techniques, and the travel logistics involved in getting to and summiting major peaks to satisfy readers who want to learn more about mountaineering.
Mark Pfizers second attempt at Everest happened to be in the fateful year of 1996 when eight Everest climbers are stranded in a storm and die. While no gory details are related, the heart wrenching story of Rob Halls last words to his wife via satellite phone is told. It is also during this attempt that Mark learns his father has cancer. In a self sacrificial decision, Mark aborts his attempt on Everest to return home to his father.
Overall, the teenage Mark is a good role model for teen readers, however, the same cannot be said for all of his climbing partners. Petty arguments and irresponsible behavior is discussed.