To the Last Breath: A Memoir of Going to Extremes
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“When a Georgetown physics professor saw his existence becoming mundane, he actually did something about it. This exciting, moving memoir documents his quest to climb the highest mountains and surf every ocean on earth” (Entertainment Weekly “Must List”).
In 1997, a Georgetown University physics professor set out to scale the highest peak of every continent and surf every ocean. Over the next 12 years, every escape from death brought him closer to life.
Shell are typically twenty thousand times smaller than a raindrop of water but one thousand times bigger than a water vapor molecule. All that gear is jammed into my sled, a runnerless toboggan, sealed shut with ropes and bungee cord. The toboggan has a harness attached, the sort of thing that an Antarctic explorer in the 1900s would have slung onto a workhorse or sled dog. We have neither of those. We’re the pack animals. Jim and I each clip a harness around our waist and begin pulling our.
Devices that a climber could slip into fissures of the rock, and the second climber, following behind, could pull out on ascent. Over the decades, gear became lighter, sturdier, allowing for cleaner ascents that didn’t scar the rock. With the new gear came speed; Harding’s five-hundred-day ascent was cut down to seven days, then three, then two. Pitons were replaced by equipment with names like bat hooks, Camelots, Ball Nutz, and Big Bros. The new equipment made Harding’s gear look like museum.
The United States, creating a source of deep resentment. After a riot by local residents in 1996, the mine’s management increasingly began hiring Indonesian soldiers to protect it and keep trespassers off the property. Clearly, the mine was a political hot spot. Fortunately, we didn’t have to worry about that, since we would be helicoptering over it. It was one more local conflict that I could ignore, as I had numerous times before. The next day the weather cleared and we flew to Timika,.
The quality of the wave. Too much wind behind the wave, blowing toward shore, and the wave can get choppy or break too soon. Too much wind into the wave is no better. The ideal is just the right amount of wind blowing toward the shore, coupled with the right slope under the wave to create that perfect curl. Even when you’ve identified the perfect topography, and you have a day with the ideal wind blowing at just the right speed and direction, you are still at the mercy of the weather. Nature has.
I first walked into his hut? “There is no extra water for washing. A woman travels fifteen kilometers to get water,” Estomii had said. The problem he identified hadn’t registered with me when he said it; now it did. No one in his village had a spigot in their kitchen. No hose was coiled tightly on a ring outside the hut. The only source of clean water lay ten miles away and every day the women in his village would trek those long hard miles, shreds of car tires bound around their feet, dust.