‘A book grows rather like a snow crystal. One doesn’t write it from start to finish but, in greater or less degree, all at the same time … that is why my book is not in chronological order; for everything is of the present, held in the moment when thought captures it.’
Kurt Diemberger’s Summits and Secrets is a mountaineering autobiography like no other. Writing anecdotally, Diemberger provides an abstract look into his life and climbing career that is both fascinating and awe-inspiring to navigate.
Known for surviving the 1986 K2 disaster – an account described in harrowing detail in his award-winning book The Endless Knot – Diemberger provides a captivating insight into his earlier climbs in Summits and Secrets. From climbing his first peak in the Tyrol mountains of Austria, to the epoch-making first ascent of Broad Peak with Hermann Buhl in 1957, and then summiting Dhaulagiri in 1960, where he became one of only two people to have made first ascents of two mountains over 8,000 metres, Diemberger recounts his experiences with wit, honesty and an infectious enthusiasm:
‘Every climber knows the thrill … the unique inexplicable tension, which the regular shapes of the mountain world awake in him: huge pyramids, enormous rectangular slabs, piled-up triangles of rock, white circles, immense squares – the thrill of simplicity of shape and outline and the excitement of mastering them, to an unbelievable extent, by his own efforts, his own power … ’
Summits and Secrets is a must-read for those wanting an insight into the life and achievements of one of the toughest high-altitude climbers the world has ever known.