The extraordinary autobiography of a brilliant young climber who began life as one of the last generation of British miners.
At the age of sixteen, Andy Cave followed in his father's and grandfather's footsteps and became a miner - one of the last recruits into a dying world. Every day he would descend 3,000 feet into Grimethorpe pit.
But at weekends Andy escaped from the pithead to a very different world - testing his nerve on the cliffs and mountains around Britain, and forging endearing friendships with his new companions.
Enduring the 1984-5 miners' strike - the guilt, the broken friendships, the poverty - Andy continued to indulge his passion. In 1986, after much soul searching, he quit his job as a miner in order to devote himself to mountaineering. At the same time he decided to educate himself, acquiring almost from a standing start academic qualifications including a PhD in socio-linguistics. This extraordinary twin odyssey is graphically recalled in this remarkable book.
In the Himalaya in 1997 Andy achieved a courageous first ascent on one of the steepest and most difficult summits in the world - the north face of Changabang. Seventeen days later, he and only two of his team-mates crawled into base camp, frostbitten, emaciated and traumatised. His account of this terrifying experience provides a dramatic climax to this compelling story.
“A brilliant book, well-written, gripping, honest and very moving”
“Andy Cave's compelling autobiography is, like Joe Simpson's Touching the Void, a gripping book on mountaineering that will appeal even to those who didn't know they were interested in climbing... Fascinating”
“Enthralling... Cave's elegant writing draws on the congruence between mining and climbing, the black humour, the danger, the camaraderie... Excellent”
Independent on Sunday
“A tale of split lives fused into one extraordinary story of adventure, laughter, tears and joy”