The Price of Adventure: Mountain Rescue Stores from Four Continents. Hamish MacInnes. The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1987. 192 pages, black and white photographs. $15.95.
The Price of Adventure contains stories of rescues on ten different mountains on four continents, South America, North America, Africa and Europe, plus New Zealand. For some mountains, the Petit Dru and Beinn Achaladair, for example, more than one rescue is recounted. A few of the stories are told by MacInnes himself, an experienced rescuer and mountaineer who pioneered new rescue techniques and equipment, but most are told either by a climber or a rescuer, or both. They are personal accounts, with considerable human drama, occasional triumph, and often tragic despair. Events are told with sufficient technical detail that climbers can follow exactly what happened in both the climb and the rescue operation, but not so tediously that nonclimbers would not enjoy the excitement and drama of the event.
This volume is MacInnes’ second collection of rescue stories: the first, High Drama, was published by The Mountaineers in 1980. The Price of Adventure is slightly shorter than its predecessor and, in my opinion, not quite as good. The descriptions in High Drama were somewhat richer in detail, but more importantly The Price of Adventure lacks the historical development found in the earlier volume, which begins with accounts of rescue attempts during the early years of climbing in the Alps and follows the development of rescue techniques as climbing became more technical. The collection of stories contained in The Price of Adventure, while no less compelling and exciting, are organized in a more hodgepodge fashion.
Though subtly portrayed, you find a bit more of MacInnes in this volume than in the previous one. He shares his own experience on the Dru where, after fracturing his skull, he successfully completes the route and descends. His accounts of rescues are more personal, reflective, and reminiscent, particularly those taking place in the Scottish Highlands.
Kevin N. Wright