A Different Kind of Athletic Triumph

I’ve been thinking about athletics recently—but not those of the Olympic variety. I’ve been thinking about mountain climbing. Hey, wouldn’t it be wild if the Olympics had a mountain climbing event? Of course, the Games might need to take place in the Himalayas for that to work . . .

The real reason I’ve had mountain climbing on my brain is because of our new book Tales from the Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest with Pete Athans. It’s a fascinating look at climbing Mount Everest. Pete has reached the summit an amazing seven times. And just think—sixty years ago, no one had ever reached Everest’s summit. (Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s historic accomplishment took place in 1953.)

The book’s text is by Sandra K. Athans, who is Pete’s sister as well as a fourth grade teacher. She conducted a number of interviews with Pete in the course of writing the book to make sure all the details are exactly right. While I certainly never thought that climbing Mount Everest was easy, this book emphasized for me just how difficult it truly is. The book takes readers along the Southeast Ridge Route to Everest’s summit. Along with the triumphs, readers hear about some of the many challenges Pete faced and all the times he had to turn back for one reason or another.


The book also incorporates some amazing photos that show both the majesty and the reality of climbing Mount Everest. It remains a formidable challenge, and four climbers died on the mountain just this year. As Pete says, “In the best conditions, novice mountaineers can be guided to the top of Everest. In the worst conditions, the best mountaineers in the world can’t get there.”