As if the very high mountain wasn’t already dangerous enough, with its rarefied oxygen, its violent winds and its avalanches, here is a sinister serial killer raging there. At least that’s the subject of a new thriller, Asphyxiation, by Amy McCulloch, which takes place on Manaslu, an 8163-meter peak located in the Himalayas, in Nepal.
Luckily, during the off-season, there is time to read and mountain literature allows you to dream and plan adventures. Asphyxiation is no exception. The dream may sound like a nightmare, but the story, precise and detailed, allows you to understand what an expedition to a high Himalayan peak is all about.
It’s hardly surprising: Amy McCulloch, a Canadian now living in London, climbed Manaslu herself in 2019.
She didn’t have extensive mountaineering experience: she had summited Mount Toubkal, Morocco, in early 2018, and then Aconcagua, Argentina. The leader of this last expedition, Nirmal Purja, a former Nepali-British soldier, was still unknown, but he had a big dream: to climb 14 peaks over 8000 meters in record time. He invited Amy McCulloch to join his team for Manaslu.
“It’s an opportunity I had to take, whether I made the summit or not,” she said in an interview from London. But that rushed my introduction to 8000+ meter peaks. »
Ms. McCullough, a children’s novelist, thought she would make a novel out of this experience, perhaps some sort of autobiographical essay like Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.
During such an expedition, there are a lot of downtime and monotonous periods, as you follow the same paths over and over again to perfect your acclimatization. “So there’s plenty of time to think…” And plenty of time to observe expedition partners and polish a plot.
One of the characters in the novel is an experienced Quebec mountaineer, influencer, always well made up, Élise Gauthier. Amy McCulloch admits that she took as a model the first Quebecer to climb K2, Marie-Pier Desharnais, but also the Andorran Stefi Troguet, who climbed the 8000 meters without oxygen, but with lipstick, and the Finn Lotta Hintsa, a former model who insists on wearing all of her gear. “Élise Gauthier is a composite”, emphasizes the author.
Asphyxia follows the rise of Cecily Wong, a young freelance journalist who accompanies the great mountaineer Charles McVeigh. This one hopes to conclude in Manaslu the ascent of the 14 summits of 8000 meters without assistance and without oxygen. He promised Cecily an exclusive interview…only if she too made it to the top.
But now, fatal accidents occur and the journalist begins to suspect the presence of a serial killer. But who ? And what are his motives? Is Cecily in danger too?
The reader identifies several suspects, while gleaning valuable information that can help him during his future high mountain expeditions. Without a bloodthirsty assassin, one must hope.
Another woman has just made her contribution to mountain literature, a genre traditionally dominated by male authors. In the Shadow of the Mountains, by Peruvian mountaineer Silvia Vásquez-Lavado, recounts her ascent of Mount Everest in May 2016. There is not a race for achievement or glory, but an attempt to surpass childhood trauma.
Silvia Vásquez-Lavado founded Courageous Girls, an organization aimed at helping women victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking discover their inner strength. It was in this context that she guided a small group of Americans and Nepalese to Everest base camp, before joining a reputable agency to undertake the actual ascent. His story alternates between Everest, his difficult past in Lima, and his self-destructive behavior in San Francisco. This is an introspective book that gives a good idea of the difficulties of climbing Everest.
In this beautiful video from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, a fish eagle emerges from its nest after a snowfall.
This is the average maximum temperature, in Celsius, for the month of April in Alert, Nunavut. Spring is late…