On the Ridge Between Life and Death
A Climbing Life Reexamined
Simon & Schuster, August 2005
What compels mountain climbers to take the risks that they do? Is it the thrill in the physical accomplishment, in managing to defy the odds, or both – and why do they continue to do what they do in the face of such great danger? In On the Ridge Between Life and Death, David Roberts confronts these questions head-on as he recounts the exhilarating highs and desperate lows of his climbing career. By the time he was twenty-two, Roberts had already been involved in three fatal mountain climbing accidents and had escaped death himself by the sheerest of luck. And yet, as he acknowledges, few things have brought him more joy than climbing.
In a famous essay on the subject written more than twenty years ago, Roberts judged climbing to be “worth the risk.” He continues to climb to this day, and several of his challenging routes in Alaska have never been climbed since. But in reassessing the emotional costs to himself and to loved ones, he reaches a different conclusion, one that is sure to cause controversy not only in climbing circles, but among adventurers of all kinds. Candid and unflinching, On the Ridge Between Life and Death is a compelling examination of the risks we take in order to feel more alive.