A lot of the books I read are recommendations from travelers I’ve met on the road or special finds at the local book shop in Kathmandu. Every once in a while a PR rep sends me a book to read and review, and truth be told, they normally aren’t very good, so I don’t write about them. To my surprise, the most recent book sent my way, Edge of the Map by Johanna Garton, was exactly the type of book I love. The perfect mix of adventure, mystery, strong female leads, and mountain climbing in Nepal with a little bit of a love story scattered in between.
The thing that really intrigues me about climbing is not only the adventure and the excitement, but it’s also going into a different land and seeing the people. Experiencing their culture. Going where hardly anyone else has ever gone.
The author Johanna Garton takes us on a journalistic look at Christine Boskoff, a female mountain climber from Wisconsin. The book follows her story from a beginner climber to one of the most well-known female climbers in the world. Edge of the Map takes you through each stage of her life by illuminating the relationships with those she was closest to including her late husband, best friends, mother, colleagues and more. They tell their favorite stories that capture her essence and share with the world the lesser known side of a famous woman.
This is what mountaineering is all about. It’s about ninety-five percent exhaustion, boredom, and tedium and five percent abject terror and thrill.
Something I found fascinating about this book was the small details. As someone who has spent weeks on long treks, I’d never thought about what would be different about spending weeks at base camp acclimating and what it would be like before and after a major climb. Especially on those where bad weather would come into play. Or the difficulties of creating a camp on the side of a mountain or setting up your own ropes to climb. I have a newfound admiration for those who climb without paying a team to do all the hard work for them.
Climbing light meant leaving behind oxygen canisters, fancy coffee, extra gear, and a sense of doubt about success or failure.
I personally knew nothing about Christine Boskoff before reading this book and was completely unfamiliar with the search and rescue to find her in China in 2006. I chose not to google the story before reading the book, and I found myself completely enthralled along the way. The author takes you on a ride and if you don’t know the ending, you feel as though you are there on the frontlines of the search in China looking for your friend.
I have nothing to prove. I just want to be the best I can be. We all search around and wonder where we’re going and I just kinda found my place.
I enjoyed reading this book a lot and when I finished it, I found myself laying there wide awake unable to sleep, rethinking the last few chapters. For some reason, this book really hit me. I’m by no means a mountain climber, but being an avid trekker I felt I could relate to Christine and her story and it struck a nerve.
I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the mountains whether you’re a rock climber, day hiker, trekker, or an avid mountain climber. I’d also recommend it to armchair travelers and feminists. It’s a great read and gives wonderful insight into the world of mountain climbing and the life of an inspiring woman.
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Michelle Della Giovanna
Writer at Full Time Explorer
I’m just your average New Yorker who quit her job in the fashion industry to explore the world. Come find out what it’s like to trade in five-inch heels for squat toilets.