Conquering K2 - in the author's own words
"It is a book that is a compass for conquering the mountain within all of us."
Published in the Sunday Times: 07/07/2019
Before One Man's Climb, I had written Footsteps of Thesiger, an account of my 44-day journey by camel and foot across the Arabian Desert. My second book was not supposed to be on any adventure, rather it was to be about human development - my main work outside of expeditions.
It was never my intention to write about the momentous events that occurred on my attempts to climb K2, the world's second-highest mountain. Although K2 is widely regarded as the greatest challenge in high-altitude mountaineering, my views were that, given that all the major firsts in climbing had been achieved, there was no market for such a book.
One Man's Climb was only conceived two years later, in 2016, when Sequoia Schmidt - who was intimately connected to the tragedy on K2 in 2013 and who was also a successful book publisher - urged me to write a book on my experience. She said there was always a market for good stories in adventure and that mine was a powerful one.
I struggled to write in 2016, due to a personal crisis involving my children that had been ongoing for four years. Also, a book on the K2 story alone just didn't seem to flow.
In early 2017, however, four things happened that changed everything. Firstly, I decided to bring elements of my previously planned book on human development into this book. Secondly, my personal crisis suffered a major escalation, which, although deeply traumatic, did give me six months on my own. Thirdly, I realised that this personal journey was so ingrained with my attempts on K2 that it was impossible not to include it in the book. And, fourthly, I read that JK Rowling wrote her books in an Edinburgh café, and so I started writing in coffee shops.
The combined circumstances worked amazingly. I like to think that the result is as much a lesson in human development, real relationships and teamwork as it is the story of climbing K2 - one that will appeal to loads of people, not just adventure lovers. It is a book that is a compass for conquering the mountain within all of us.
One Man's Climb: A Journey of Trauma, Tragedy and Triumph on K2. Published by Blue Weaver, R275