Written by Simon McCartney
Reviewed by Karin Magog
Wow what a read. I found this book to be a real page
turner, very hard to put down and very gripping in places. The Bond is the story
of British mountaineer Simon McCartney, now a very successful businessman who
spends much of his time living in Hong Kong, but whom back in the 1970s was an
extremely talented and bold mountaineer until an epic climb in Alaska lead him
to quit climbing altogether.
The book starts with some early Alpine adventures where Simon was the apprentice
to the more experienced Dave Wilkinson. A strong team they made many second
ascents as well as a first ascent in the Oberland. His tale of their second
ascent of the central pillar of Brouillard on Mont Blanc sets the scene for more
epics ahead and was enough to get me hooked. The Bond also covers his eventual
winter ascent of The Eiger, an early goal of his but one not without incident.
However, it was Simon's chance encounter with American climber Jack Roberts in
the Bar National in Chamonix that would shape his climbing career. Both keen and
accomplished climbers they found they were both hungry for a greater challenge.
Climbers invariably get on well with other climbers, swapping tales of routes
climbed, past adventures and future objectives. However, sometimes you come
across another climber you instantly connect with, the same drive and ambitions
that can lead to that special climbing partnership. So it was with Simon and
Jack as they formulated plans to climb together in Alaska the following summer.
The story of their first ascents of the north face of Mount Huntington then the
southwest face of Denali, both in Alaska, make for edge of the seat reading.
Their Alpine approach in this sort of territory was cutting edge, their fast and
light tactic a testament to their belief in their own ability, their trust in
each other and their youthful sense of their own immortality. How they succeeded
on these climbs and survived to tell the tale makes compelling reading. No
spoilers here, just buy a copy of the book and get reading.
The Bond is well written and is illustrated with numerous black and white and
colour photos, the majority taken by Simon and Jack themselves. What really adds
to the book though is the extracts from other climbers diaries, especially those
written by Jack. He wrote a daily diary and these personal musings form an
integral part of the story. Now I’m not a mountaineer, it holds no appeal to me
- the danger, the cold, the hardship. However, I have read a few of the classic
mountaineering books such as The Shining Mountain and Touching the Void. The
Bond is more than worthy of a place on your bookshelf amongst these legends. You
don't have to be a mountaineer or even a climber to enjoy this book. The heart
of the story is the human side, the obsession and passion that drives people to
risk their lives, the selflessness of others in helping those in need and the
lifelong bond that can form between two individuals. As Jack himself said “Man,
the only, only good thing about that climb, was that you were tied on to the
other end of the rope”.
Article on UK Climbing
talks about his book
The Bond on Vimeo.
The Bond has been shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain
Literature 2016 and the 2016 Banff Mountain Book competition.