Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Halfway to Heaven

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Halfway to Heaven

My White-knuckled - and Knuckleheaded - Quest for the Rocky Mountain High

by Mark Obmascik

Halfway to Heaven by Mark Obmascik X
Halfway to Heaven by Mark Obmascik
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2009, 288 pages
    May 2010, 288 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

This article relates to Halfway to Heaven

Print Review

A Beginner's Guide to Mountaineering

Mountain climbing, or mountaineering, is the sport of attaining or attempting to attain high points in mountainous regions, mainly for the pleasure of the climb. Before the 18th century, climbing for sport was rare. Humans did ascend high peaks, but generally only out of necessity or for religious reasons (many ancient religions such as the Mayans and Greeks built mountaintop shrines, and it is believed that pilgrims have been journeying to the foot of Mount Kailash in Tibet since well before recorded history).

The birth of contemporary mountain climbing came in 1760, when Horace Benedict de Saussure offered prize money for the first summit of Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in Europe (no attempt was successful until 1786). The first summit of the Matterhorn came in 1865. The activity became increasingly popular, with mountaineers looking for ever greater challenges, culminating in the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, on May 29, 1953. The invention of better, lighter climbing gear over the decades has enabled more and more people to participate in the sport. It is no longer just for the elite climber; thousands of "regular people" summit mountains every year.

In addition to the typical gear most people would take on a backpack trip, mountaineering requires some specialized equipment:

  • Good quality mountaineering boots, which differ significantly from hiking boots - the toes and soles are more rugged, with less flex to accommodate crampons.
  • Crampons – Metal "teeth" that are attached to hiking boots, providing extra traction when walking on hard snow or ice.
  • Helmet – Protects from falling rock.
  • Trekking poles – A pair of light-weight, adjustable poles, used to assist with balance. They also reduce stress on the lower half of the body by absorbing some of the impact of walking over difficult terrain.
  • Ice axe – Used to provide extra stability in snow and prevent slipping. It can also be used to stop the climber from sliding all the way down a snowfield. Finally, it is used to chop steps in snow or ice to make footing more secure.
  • In Class 4 and 5 climbing, the use of a rope, harness, and anchors may be necessary.

Even with the appropriate gear, mountaineering is a dangerous sport. Lower air pressure and lack of oxygen can lead to severe headaches, nausea and lethargy, collectively known as altitude sickness. The afflicted individual may eventually acclimatize, but altitude sickness can lead to high altitude cerebral or pulmonary edema (an edema is a swelling caused by fluid trapped in the body's tissues), either of which can be fatal. In addition there are a whole raft of other potential conditions that can afflict climbers, from snow blindness to what is politely known as high altitude flatus expulsion, which is caused by the differential between the lowering external pressure and the relatively high pressure within the body.

Despite the many different ways to achieve injury or death on a mountain, the most common cause of injury is, as you would expect, falling.

Useful Links

Article by Kim Kovacs

This "beyond the book article" relates to Halfway to Heaven. It originally ran in May 2009 and has been updated for the May 2010 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...
  • Book Jacket
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Collection
    The Last Collection
    by Jeanne Mackin
    What it's about:
    The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin follows the lives of two internationally ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly


Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.