What compels mountain climbers to take the risks that they do? Is it the thrill in the physical accomplishment, in managing to defy the odds, or both -- and why do they continue to do what they do in the face of such great danger? In On the Ridge Between Life and Death, David Roberts confronts these questions head-on as he recounts the exhilarating highs and desperate lows of his climbing career. By the time he was twenty-two, Roberts had already been involved in three fatal mountain climbing accidents and had escaped death himself by the sheerest of luck. And yet, as he acknowledges, few things have brought him more joy than climbing.
In a famous essay on the subject written more than twenty years ago, Roberts judged climbing to be "worth the risk." He continues to climb to this day, and several of his challenging routes in Alaska have never been climbed since. But in reassessing the emotional costs to himself and to loved ones, he reaches a different conclusion, one that is sure to cause controversy not only in climbing circles, but among adventurers of all kinds. Candid and unflinching, On the Ridge Between Life and Death is a compelling examination of the risks we take in order to feel more alive.
David Roberts (1943–2021)was the author of dozens of books on mountaineering, adventure, and the history of the American Southwest. His essays and articles have appeared in National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, and The Atlantic Monthly, among other publications.
"Nobody alive writes better about mountaineering and its peculiar adherents than David Roberts, my mentor and friend of thirty-some years, and this is Professor Roberts's magnum opus. Told with wrenching candor, On the Ridge Between Life and Death may disturb you, or even make you angry, but you will not be able to put it aside." -- Jon Krakauer, author of Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith and Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
"Critic's Choice, * * * *. This is an addiction memoir like no other." -- Pope Brock, People
"A fine achievement in adventure writing." -- Wook Kim, Entertainment Weekly