‘It’s out!’ said the umpire Dickie Bird as he lifted his finger.
‘But what’s this got to do with mountaineering?’ I hear you asking.
Absolutely nothing, but just like the sheepish cricketer making his way back to the pavilion, something else is out, and it’s much more exciting.
It seems like donkeys years since I last published a book, and I’m very excited about my latest one.
In last week’s post, I explained how I’ve been working with my editor Alex Roddie over the last few months to curate some of the best posts in this blog into a collection. We chose the subject of Sherpas, whom I’ve written about a lot over the years.
Thanks to Alex’s editorial skills we’ve revised them and arranged them in a way that forms a story, taking us from the early years of Himalayan mountaineering, through the conflicts of recent years (which those of you who are regular readers will know I found myself witness to), right up to the present day and the first winter ascent of K2, a watershed moment that has cast Sherpas as superstar climbers in their own right.
Of course, if you’re short of a penny or two, you can search your way through this blog and read all the posts for free in their original form, but then you’d be missing out on all the improvements we’ve made to the text and the way we’ve made them flow like a story (besides, time is more valuable than money, so why make life difficult for yourselves). I can promise you it’s well worth splashing out on the £1.99 / €2.99 / $3.99 to pop the ebook on your device and settle in for an enjoyable Friday night with a good read.
The book, Sherpa Hospitality as a Cure for Frostbite, was released as an ebook this week and will be available as a paperback very soon (I’ll make another announcement when it is). I’ll also be taking advantage of my newly discovered narrating skills to turn it into an audiobook in early 2022.
The ebook was ready to go in October, but there was a short delay while I worked on the cover with my designer. None of the photographic options really worked with the mountain-savvy readership I have. Some of you would be quick to spot figures who didn’t look like Sherpas or mountains that aren’t in Nepal. Not that I don’t have plenty of photos of both, but we were finding it hard to put it all together into a design that immediately said ‘Sherpa’. I also wanted something that didn’t look like every other mountaineering book cover, not because I want to confuse readers, but because I really detest those clichéd covers (as I’ve previously explained).
In the end I opted for a graphical approach like my two main travelogues, but using a design with more gravitas that reflects the book’s more serious themes. Once again, I’m really happy with the final cover that shows a silhouette of a Sherpa helping his client up a rock scramble (a scenario with echoes of my own ascent of Everest’s Second Step) against a backdrop of Ama Dablam, the Khumbu region’s most iconic mountain. The final touch is the line of prayer flags draped over the title like bunting, reflecting Sherpa hospitality.
Anyway, at the end of the day, a cover’s just a cover. It helps to sell the book (I hope) but it’s what’s inside that’s important. And this, I’m very happy with. I hope you enjoy it too.
So if you’re ready to read it, click the big green button below (and then another button saying ‘Buy’ on your favourite online bookstore).
I’m going to finish with the above couple of photos of myself at Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival’s Travel & Adventure talk last Saturday. In the first part I talked about my Seven Steps to the summit of Everest. On the left you can see me talking about a guy in silly trousers who turned up to his first trek in the Himalayas wearing a beer rugby jersey. In the more serious second part of the talk I discussed Sherpas and their changing role in Himalayan expeditions. On the right you can see me discussing the dangers of the Khumbu Icefall and the fateful events of April 2014.