Annapurna, A Woman's Place

Blum, Arlene
Year Published: 

"Arlene Blum led the first American and first women's expedition to climb Annapurna I in the Himalayas. Annapurna is her story of the climb: from fund-raising (remember the t-shirts that said ""A Woman's Place is on Top""?); to organizing thirteen women, more than 150 boxes of gear, thousands of pounds of food and numerous Nepalese guides and porters; to the summit ascent itself and the death of two climbers. Perhaps because it is told from the perspective of the leader of a team, this is as much a book about management and decisions as it is about a mountain. There are poetic passages about the beauty of the ice, the fantasy of cloudwalking, the terrors of avalanches and crevasses - but more time is spent on the delicate balance that must be kept between native male guides and foreign women climbers, as well as among the women themselves. This is a book about working together under extraordinary conditions where the temperature in your tent can drop to ten degrees below zero and a tiny hole in a glove can mean the possible loss of a finger. It is about making decisions while an avalanche rushes by you with a wind that knocks you over. It is about risking death knowing that you have a daughter, a partner at home; for a few it means working for years and years, and then choosing at the last minute not to go to the top. At times confusing (keeping track of all the base camps, sherpas, and climbers is a job in itself), at times preachy, this is, in the end, the compelling story of thirteen very different women - ranging in age from 19 to 50 - each determined to get women to the top of a mountain whose name means ""the goddess rich in sustenance."""