At age 12, Mark Pfetzer stood at the base of his first rock wall in the Rhode Island Rock Gym. Actually, the required age to climb the wall was 15, Mark was big for his age. No one questioned him. Four years later, by age 16, he had summited Mt. Pisco & Huascaran (Peru), Cotopaxi (Ecuador), Anoncagua (Argentine), Mt. Ranier (Washington), Ama Dablam (Nepal), Kilimanjaro as assistant guide (Africa), Cho Oyu (Tibet). In addition, he had been up both the north face of Everest (age 15, turned back because of cracked rib @ 25,000 feet) and the south face of Everest (age 16, turned back because of the devastating storm of May 10, 1996, @ 26,000 feet).
Mark Pfetzer has traveled the world, alone, in four years and covered more miles in more different countries, than most of us will do in a lifetime. He has sat in base camp and broke bread with Rob Hall, Scott Fischer, Anatoli Boukreev, David Breshears, Beck Weathers and countless others.
By age 14, Pfetzer was determined to go to Everest and through dogged determination, crushing physical training, and a new found ability to approach corporations for sponsorship, be obtained that goal. In addition, he maintained exemplar grades in school, toting those books up the mountains in his backpack and pouring over his homework just like a normal teenager. Only he did it at 26,000 feet and on an ice ledge, after 6 grueling hours of climbing and 2 hours of setting up camp in horrendous conditions.
At 16, had he continued his dream, he would have been the youngest person to summit Everest. He previously held the record anyway for the youngest to climb as high as he did, along with the records for the youngest to summit his other mountains. However, another more debilitating obstacle crossed Marks path, and he gave up his mountains to stay at home with his family.
He began a round of inspirational talks and became one of the most sought after motivational speakers around consider that, at 16 years of age! His dedication to his family, his sport, and his personal life is an inspiration to us all. His ultimate goal is to become an emergency room physician, I imagine he will accomplish that goal.
This book is a quick read, just a little over 200 pages, with a nice selection of clear, crisp photographs in color. It was written by Mark, co-authored by Jack Galvin, a free-lance journalist. There are many messages of value in this writing, and I find little to fault with the style, considering it was written by a teenager.
My only complaint in the writing style is Pfetzers use of constant metaphors. Now, I have an active imagination, coupled with the fact that I have read a good deal about Everest and climbing, so I was more in tune to what he was trying to stress. However, take a person that had never encountered these conditions before, or someone that lacks visualization, his style would have been a little more difficult to understand. Then again, you must remember that you are dealing with a youngster.
The fact that, although he has traveled far and wide, and met scores of famous people, inside he is still a normal teenager. This pops up continuously in the book in his writing and gives you a chuckle. Success and fame certainly have not gone to this young mans head!
Pfetzer has been interviewed on CBS, NBC, ABC, ESPN and was filming a documentary for National Geographic on his last Everest attempt. In addition, articles on him have appeared in Time, Life, Outside, and various other magazines. Mark Pfetzer is certainly a young man to emulate.
If you enjoy a good read about personal goals and accomplishments, this would be a nice book for you to consider. Available at Barnes & Noble, Media Play, Little Professor online and offline.
Isbn # 0-14-130497-9 Price $6.99
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
What's your opinion on Within Reach: My Everest Story?