On the nightstand

Posted by Ken Campbell October 30, 2009 0 Comment 631 views

I’ve been reading climbing books lately. My reading list goes through its varied phases and right now, I’m in the middle of a re-read of the Burgess Book of Lies, a vintage collection of mountaineering tales written by a pair of delightful British climbing hooligans, twins Alan and Adrian Burgess. They mix intense climbing narratives with colorful anecdotes of the hard-drinking, dope-smoking, dirtbag climbing lifestyle of the 60′, 70’s and 80’s… It is hard to read it and not wish that I could go back there, to that icy ledge or silent alpine hut, to those smoke-filled bars of Chamonix.

Yeah, the editing could have been better. Typos abound, and the authors often contradict themselves several times in the space of a page or two but, damn, they have good stories. It’s not like any of us readers are perfect or anything. Whether you think they were noteworthy climbers or not (and I do), they do have a gift for the tale.

It all seems so long ago, and so far away.

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