Below Another Sky

Ridgeway, Rick
Year Published: 

"On October 13, 1980, alpinists Rick Ridgeway and Yvon Chouinard, in company with National Geographic photographer Jonathan Wright, were struggling up the slopes of the little-explored Tibetan mountain Minya Konka when an avalanche swallowed them. Wright, only 28 years old, died. As he did, Ridgeway writes, ""something left him. I saw it."" The survivors buried Wright in a rocky grave on Minya Konka's flanks and, dispirited, returned home with the haunting vision of that death always in their memories.

Fast-forward nearly 20 years. Wright's daughter, an infant when he died, asks Ridgeway to take her to Tibet, climb Minya Konka with her, and find her father's grave. Their remarkable journey in honor of a lost friend and father, one that would honor Wright's vow ""to live each day as though it were my only one"" and that would take them into mountains that had never before been climbed, forms the heart of Ridgeway's thoughtful memoir, which is sure to become a classic of mountaineering literature. The book is, however, more than a simple narrative of a difficult task accomplished; it affords Ridgeway an opportunity to reflect on his many perilous adventures (kayaking in the stormy waters off Tierra del Fuego and scaling Mount Everest among them) and on what drives him to undertake such challenges in the face of hard-earned knowledge of the risks involved--all of it having something to do, as he writes, with ""telling yourself you're not sure you can make it, but making it anyway.""

Like Peter Matthiessen's Snow Leopard, Ridgeway's book involves a voyage of personal discovery that's rich with meaning. And, like Matthiessen's book, Below Another Sky deserves a place on the shelves of anyone possessed by the spirit of adventure."