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Seven Summits


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Their dream was to climb the hightest mountain on each of the seven continentsan exciting prospect for any world-class mountaineer. But Bass and Wells, businessmen in their early 50s, were rank amateurs. With Ridgeway, one of America's foremost climbers who accompanied the pair on some of their expeditions, they tell their story here. It is a gripping tale of adventure that embraces courage, disappointment, joy and commitment. The process of getting to Mt. Vinson in Antarctica was a marvel of logistics. For their third and final attempt on Mt. Everest, Wells had to choose between the summit try and his family; Bass completed the seventh summit to become the oldest man to stand on top of the world. The two were lucky enough to have the money to fulfill their dream; they also had guts. In mountaineering lingo, they proved themselves ``real animals.'' Photos not seen by PW. (April 30)

Although not a classic of mountaineering literature, this is a surprisingly engaging story (thanks to Ridgeway, an experienced climber and writer). Two 50-year-old American executives conceived the idea of climbing seven summits, the highest mountain on each continent. They hired guides, acquired a circle of mountaineering friends, and set out. First Aconcagua, then McKinley, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Kosciusko. . . . The book is of interest for descriptions of how expeditions are mounted and financed and for its picture of present-day mountaineering and adventuring. There are especially good narratives of the Vinson and Everest efforts. Despite a touch of crassness and hype, this is, notes poetry-loving Bass, a story of ``heroic hearts/ Made weak by time and fate,/ But strong in will/ To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.'' Illustrations not seen. William A. Wortman, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, Ohio

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