Book Review: Transcendent Summits by Gerry Roach

Gerry Roach has taken the art of storytelling to a whole new level. To borrow the theme from his book “Transcendent Summits”, it took me to a place in mind I had yet to visit.

As a non-climber and non-mountaineer, yet an avid outdoorswoman and winter enthusiast, I found myself oddly possessed by his brilliant narrative. As Gerry describes his own visions of a climb, or in one case imagining what happened to the first two men to supposedly summit Mount Everest, I too had dreams of climbing these great mountains. I, however, woke the next morning to an alarm reminding me of yet another day in the office, but somehow that feeling of euphoria standing atop a peak stayed with me.

Gerry Roach may hold records for his mountaineering and climbing career, yet it seems his adventures as a child are what he most fondly remembers. His father’s career as a high level scientists afforded his family the opportunity to live in a variety of locations and enjoy a plethora of experiences. These same places allowed a young and eager Gerry to explore his passion for adventure, as well as the clean air that gave his persistent asthma a break.

While the title of the book seems both simple and confusing all in the same breath, it certainly took reading the story front to back to comprehend what a “transcendent summit” is. We have all had experiences in life that in context seem to be mirror images of another, yet somehow seem to hold the answer to a question we have always asked.

This book definitely isn’t just about climbing. It is about seeking the challenges in life that bring us to a better understanding of who we are and what our purpose is in life. For Gerry, mountaineering began as an outlet from the tension and unanswered questions of his household, but turned into a passion and purpose for his life. Many will recommend this book as a fantastic story of climbing and mountaineering.

Who can argue that his description of hiking Landscape Arch in Arches National Park (prior to the ban to climb it) was at once thrilling and calming? Or that his climbs of Grand Teton or Mount Rainier or Longs Peak weren’t incredible to say the least? The answer is no one, but many will also say that is a story of great accomplishment and life lessons.

Not the lessons that your mother taught or that your 5th grade teacher tried to impress upon you, but the lessons that you force yourself to learn. The lessons and challenges that bring us all to a point in life we constantly strive for. “Transcendent Summits” is a book for the ages. One that will transcend time and interests and can speak to us all.

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