To the Last Breath: A Memoir of Going to Extremes

“When a Georgetown physics professor observed his life turning into mundane, he really did anything approximately it. This fascinating, relocating memoir records his quest to climb the top mountains and surf each ocean on the earth” (Entertainment Weekly “Must List”).

In 1997, a Georgetown collage physics professor got down to scale the top top of each continent and surf each ocean. Over the subsequent 12 years, each break out from demise introduced him in the direction of existence.

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There had constantly been diamonds scattered around the map’s floor: black for areas I’d climbed, blue the place I’d surfed, transparent the place I deliberate to move subsequent. yet now I seemed previous these diamonds and that i observed the characters and the tales that crammed these locations. Out of the map rose huts and villages. Mountain trails and Lamas minimize throughout the traces of range; dusty footpaths and tribesmen severed the longitudes. I observed struggles and embraces, heard sighs and felt loss. I remembered faces, their expressions, and the furrows working throughout their brows that have been etched via the thrill and hardships of lengthy days.

Picture through Jim Williams After a quiet epiphany in Antarctica, I took a extra leisurely method of my subsequent climb, the West Buttress of Denali, the place seashore umbrellas populate one of many excessive camps. picture by means of Mike Farris stress-free with Gina after an afternoon of browsing in Bali, Indonesia. inside of hours i might decide up a neighborhood paper and skim in regards to the ambush of usa citizens on a highway during the Freeport-McMoRan mine. I had dodged a bullet: I were on that street days prior, touring during the mine less than conceal of evening to climb Puncak Jaya.

Inside of 100 ft, you could go back and forth via a culinary time tunnel descending from four-star eating places to smoky highway foodstuff. I’ve continually loved sampling a meal scooped onto a plate from the ladle of a highway seller. My hunt for a few neighborhood nutrients may regularly begin an identical approach. i might say whatever like “Well, we didn’t come all this fashion to consume McDonald’s” after which dive right into a mound of a few neighborhood food. for that reason, my expeditions are necessarily punctuated through 2 A. M. retching, with me moaning in a lodge room or in my napping bag, physique curled right into a comma, watching for the antibiotics to kick in.

You’re correct, that does suck,” was once all I acknowledged. And so, with out criticism, Pax hiked down in his hiking footwear, the pointy rocks at the path urgent up and during the skinny rubber. As anticipated, the six hours at the path left his toes overwhelmed and worn. after we acquired again to the automobile, he pulled his mountaineering sneakers off and it seemed as if his ft have been whipped with a bamboo cane. That evening, again in camp, with Pax’s toes airing out within the cool breeze, we thought of the subsequent trouble: the cot used to be sitting at the best of a two-hundred-foot-tall redwood tree.

In the meanwhile, we don’t have any plans for the way we’re going to spend the time. “What are you going to do? ” Gina asks. We have been heading again to the U. S. from Indonesia and had laid over in Vietnam at the manner. We had this final morning in Hanoi. “I’m going to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. are looking to come? ” Gina seemed again at me with whole disinterest. i may inform from her expression that she couldn’t think something extra uninteresting. “You’re going to work out a lifeless man? ” I gave the mausoleum the easiest security i'll give some thought to.

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