Former Navy rescue swimmer Brian Dickinson was roughly 1,000 feet from the summit of Mount Everest—also known as “the death zone”—when his Sherpa became ill and had to turn back, leaving Brian with a difficult decision: should he continue to push for the summit, or head back down the mountain? After carefully weighing the options, Brian decided to continue toward the summit—alone. Four hours later, Brian solo summited the highest peak in the world. But the celebration was short-lived. After taking a few pictures, Brian radioed his team to let them know he had summited safely, and got ready to begin his descent. Suddenly, his vision became blurry, his eyes started to burn, and within seconds, he was rendered almost completely blind. All alone at 29,035 feet, low on oxygen, and stricken with snow blindness, Brian was forced to inch his way back down the mountain relying only on his Navy survival training, his gut instinct, and his faith. In Blind Descent, Brian recounts—in fantastic detail—his extraordinary experience on Everest, demonstrating that no matter how dire our circumstances, there is no challenge too big for God.
When thinking of mountain climbing, my interest level is very low. In fact, throughout the story, I identified far more with Dickinson’s wife, than with him. However, even though I was not that interested in the mountain climbing aspect of the story, I enjoyed this book a lot.
I learned so much more about mountain climbing than I ever imagined I would ever know! Dickinson’s description of the process of climbing Everest was eye-opening! I never imagined it would be a two-month process due to acclimating and the up and down climbs. I liked the way Dickinson wove his faith throughout the story, too. Some people are put off by too much “preachiness” or criticize books written by Christians as being “not Christian enough”. Dickinson hits just the right tone, he shares his faith as it is, as integral part of his life and his journey on Everest.
This book was so well-written that even though I know I will never physically climb Everest, I feel as if a part of me did along with Dickinson. The only tiny criticism I have is that I would have liked to read more about the Sherpas. It kind of seems like they are the unsung heroes of climbing Everest. What an extreme job! They provide hospitality at 20,000+ feet while carrying supplies and cooking meals and setting up camp. Dickinson speaks about Pasang, his Sherpa, quite a bit but I wanted to read more!
This is a great book for people who are fans of climbing as well as people who are not. If you have ever wondered what it would be like to climb Mt. Everest, read this book and then you will know!