“I was filled with profound misgiving. In cold print 20,000 feet does not seem very much. Every year more and more expeditions climb peaks of 25,000 feet, and over. In the Himalayas a mountain of this size is regarded as an absolute pimple, unworthy of serious consideration. But I had never climbed anything. It was true that I had done some hill walking and a certain amount of scrambling in the Dolomites with my wife, but nowhere had we failed to encounter ladies twice our age armed with umbrellas.”To mitigate this lack of experience, they took 4 days of climbing lessons in Wales before heading to Afghanistan. (Yeah, I’m sure that really helped!) Regardless, Newby survived the trip to write this funny classic in the travel genre.
Monday, December 11, 2006
A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby
When I ran aross this book in a bookstore, I bought it because I’d vaguely heard of it (though I had absolutely no idea what I’d heard) and the hugely understated title struck me as very amusing. (Who describes any trip in the Himalayas as a “short walk”?) Newby’s very British understatement and his dry sense of humor made me laugh out loud at times. After 10 yrs in the fashion industry in London, Newby decides he wants to go on an “expedition” and invites a friend, who suggests they go to north-eastern Afghanistan (a region where no Englishmen have been in >50 yrs.) Newby writes: