Perhaps this write-up captures what I found so enjoyable about his book: When poet Andrew Greig was asked by Scottish mountaineer Mal Duff to join his ascent of the Mustagh Tower in the Karakoram Himalayas, he had a poor head for heights and no climbing experience whatsoever. The result is this unique book.
Summit Fever has been loved by climbers and literary critics alike for its refreshing candour, wit, insight and the haunting beauty of its writing. Much more than a book about climbing, it celebrates the risk, joy and adventure of being alive.
But having 'discovered' Andrew today, beyond rereading his book and carrying it with me as I've moved towns and countries, I have truly enjoyed finding his poetry and everything else too. He's a well-rounded artist it seems.
And I found Mal's Song (embedded below) ... beyond special. I'm on page 38, rereading my paperback version yet again and Mal is currently introducing Andrew to the mountains ... in preparation for their adventure in the Himalayas. Like in the song.
Mal Duff was an extraordinary man, a superb mountaineer, a good friend to many, and all kinds of other things that I can't possibly imagine, I'm sure. He died at Everest's base camp back in 1997.
Joe Simpson, who also had some epic times in the mountains with Mal, wrote of Mal's favourite quote in the introduction to Andrew's book, Summit Fever. The quote:
He either fears his fate too much
or his deserts are small,
that dares no put it to the touch
to win or lose it all.
- the Duke of Montrose.
But of course.
And that would be Joe Simpson, that other writer/mountaineer whose books I love.