Time goes by, and gradually I’m working through the books in my Footsteps in the Mountain Travel Diaries series, revising and expanding the text and getting them professionally edited.
The latest book to undergo this treatment is Islands in the Snow, the story of my trek around the Solu-Khumbu region of Nepal in 2009. I completed this trek with my erstwhile climbing partner Mark Dickson (now, sadly, retired from mountaineering) as a warm-up for our 8,000m-peak expedition to the Gasherbrums in Pakistan later that year (documented in another book in the series, Thieves, Liars and Mountaineers).
We completed the popular Mera Peak and Island Peak circuit, trekking up the Hongu Valley and across the high, glaciated pass, the Amphu Labtsa. After we climbed Island Peak, Mark went home, and I went off on my own to explore the Gokyo and Bhote Kosi valleys.
This is an area rich in history, first explored by some very famous names in Himalayan exploration. The first westerners to cross the Amphu Labtsa were Eric Shipton and Edmund Hillary during their 1951 Everest reconnaissance. Island Peak was first climbed and named by Tenzing Norgay and members of the 1953 British Everest expedition as a warm-up to the main event. Meanwhile the area to the south was first explored by Col. Jimmy Roberts, generally regarded as the grandfather of trekking in Nepal. Roberts also made the first ascent of Mera Peak with Sen Tenzing, but he wasn’t sure whether he had climbed its highest point.
One of Mark and my aims was to establish the true height of Mera Peak, by climbing all of its main summits and measuring the altitude with a GPS. In our quest, we discovered that most trekking companies don’t actually take their clients to the true summit.
In the process of revising the diary, I have significantly expanded the historical background. The quirky travelogue remains, but I hope this extra material enhances the text by helping to acquaint readers with the rich history of this popular area of Nepal.
The complete text of the book has been re-edited with the help of my regular editor Alex Roddie of The Great Outdoors and Sidetracked magazines, who has helped me to polish the text until it shines. Fans of my writing will be happy to know that the underlying style remains. My aim with the Footsteps on the Mountain Travel Diaries is to treat the reader as a travelling companion, walking alongside me on the trek and joining me for the climbs.
The revised digital version of Islands in the Snow is available now from the main online bookstores (Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and B&N). To buy a copy, find out more about it, or read a free sample, visit my book page.
For a limited period you can buy the digital version for the bargain price of $1, €1 or £1, depending on your preferred currency.
Until now the book has only been available digitally. But I am now in the process of producing it as a paperback for those of you who like sniffing the ink on the page, and are not embarrassed to show off your reading tastes to commuters on the train. Once the paperback is available, I will be increasing the price to bring it into line with other titles in the series, so get in quick!
To find out more about the evolution of the Footsteps on the Mountain Travel Diaries series you might be interested in this blog post I originally wrote for the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).
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