BookBrowse Reviews Halfway to Heaven by Mark Obmascik

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
    Paperback:
    May 2010, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


As one man exceeds the physical achievements of his youth, he discovers that age - like summit height - is just a number

Halfway to Heaven is a different kind of mountain climbing book. Unlike Into Thin Air or Touching the Void, which feature well-trained individuals obsessed with the sport, Halfway to Heaven relates the exploits of forty-four year old "everyman" and novice climber, Mark Obmascik. The result is an entertaining look at a challenging activity from a viewpoint to which many of us can relate. This is a book for the weekend warrior, for all of us who watch mountaineering movies from the safety of our couches, and for those who dream of attempting feats of athleticism - maybe tomorrow.

There will be inevitable comparisons between Halfway to Heaven and Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, and for the most part, they're apt. Both feature middle-age men tackling nature in ways one wouldn't think possible for those in less than peak physical condition. Both authors also see the humor in what they're attempting, and are able to convey it to their readers. Unlike much of Bryson's book, though, Obmascik's writing isn't as laugh-out-loud funny; his style is to drop the occasional one-liner into his narrative, more likely resulting in a sympathetic smile or chuckle than a belly-laugh.

"On the way up the mountain I had donned crampons for the first time, mostly to practice with my new gear, but also for safety. Besides, they let me climb like Spider-Man. Slopes that Matt had to hop and peck and squirm around, I just sauntered straight up. The twelve sharp steel teeth strapped onto each hiking boot may as well have been superglue; they stuck to anything, and I beamed like a boy with his newest, favoritest Christmas toy. I felt safe. I felt strong. I even felt a little bit of an even rarer commodity – confidence."

Halfway to Heaven is also more compelling than Walk in the Woods. For one thing, mountaineering is a dangerous sport. Obmascik unquestionably risks injury or death every time he steps on the mountain. Humor aside, there are definitely sections of the narrative where his fear is evident. Adding interest to Halfway to Heaven is his depiction of the other people with whom he climbs. His wife's insistence that he never climb alone led him to ask, beg and bribe relatives and friends (some of whom he hadn't seen in decades) to join him. When that still left too many unattended climbs, he turned to friends of friends, and, ultimately, to strangers. Obmascik not only describes these people and their climbing abilities, but gives his readers some insight into what motivates them to undertake such a demanding sport. Finally, he depicts the mountains themselves as individuals. Each has its own unique character, making each climb different and unpredictable.

The Fourteeners

The author's humility about his undertaking is especially appealing. He relates his accomplishments with a quiet pride in himself, giving nearly all the credit to his supportive family and climbing partners; he never slips into boasting or bragging, and comes across as simply a very likable guy.

Halfway to Heaven is a fun book, likely to appeal to a wide range of people from outdoor enthusiasts to couch-potatoes. It's without doubt one of those books that readers will want to share with a friend or two.

Image: Aerial view of some of the the Fourteeners

Reviewed by Kim Kovacs

This review was originally published in May 2009, and has been updated for the May 2010 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Only Child
    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin
    Rhiannon Navin's debut novel, Only Child received an overall score of 4.8 out of 5 from BookBrowse ...
  • Book Jacket: Brass
    Brass
    by Xhenet Aliu
    In 1996, Waterbury, Connecticut is a town of abandoned brass mills. Eighteen-year-old Elsie ...
  • Book Jacket: Timekeepers
    Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield
    If you can spare three minutes and 57 seconds, you can hear the driving, horse-gallop beat of Sade&#...
  • Book Jacket: How to Stop Time
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig
    Tom Hazard, the protagonist of How to Stop Time, is afflicted with a condition of semi-immortality ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The French Girl
    by Lexie Elliott

    An exhilarating debut psychological suspense novel for fans of Fiona Barton and Ruth Ware.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Only Child
    by Rhiannon Navin

    A dazzling, tenderhearted debut about healing, family, and the exquisite wisdom of children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Beartown

Now in Paperback!

From the author of a A Man Called Ove, a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T I M A Slip B C A L

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & 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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.