Review: Lou Whittaker: Memoirs of a Mountain Guide

Lou Whittaker: Memoirs of a Mountaineer

I can’t exactly figure out why, but I have a strange fascination with mountain climbing.  It’s strange because I have no desire to climb a mountain.  A hike with a 1000 foot elevation gain is more than good enough for me, thank you very much.

Isaac and I recently watched both seasons of The Discovery Channel’s Everest: Beyond the Limit.  (Fourteen episodes in like four days.  Overkill?  Maybe.)  It’s about amateur climbers who pay $40,000 to put themselves through hell and risk frostbite and death and losing brain cells (literally) to stand on top of the world.  Crazy.

When we were camping at Mt Rainier last weekend, I found the book Lou Whittaker: Memoirs of a Mountain Guide at the Sunrise Visitor Center.  Lou led expeditions on several of the world’s highest mountains, but his main contribution to mountaineering is his business Rainier Mountaineering, Inc, a guide service that teaches mountain climbing and leads climbs all over the world, primarily on Mt Rainier.

Ignoring the fact that I broke my pledge to read every book in my Unread Library before buying another book…this was a good book. I read it out loud to Isaac in less than a week.  It’s told in the first person and it’s just a story of Lou’s really interesting life.  There are parts that I didn’t need to know (like about how mountain guides apparently like to be naked when they’re not on the mountain – what?) but it was an interesting and easy read.

Lou ends the book with a poem from Robert Service that I really like.

They have created you in custom,
they have primed you with their preaching.
They have soaked you in convention through and through.
They have put you in a showcase; you’re a credit to their teaching-
But can’t you hear the Wild? – It’s calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There’s a whisper on the night wind, there’s a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling … let us go.

From The Call of the Wild, by Robert Service.

Even though I don’t climb mountains, the Wild definitely calls to me.  There’s something about being outdoors that is freeing and rejuvenating.  Does the Wild call to you?

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One response to “Review: Lou Whittaker: Memoirs of a Mountain Guide

  1. i camp for work and stuff. it’s totally jaded me. i’m a tree-hugging environmentalist who will only go camping/hiking if i get paid for it. guilty. hahaha

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