Book Review: The Bond
Survival On Denali and Mount Huntington
By author: Simon McCartney
320 pages 16-page color
and B/W insert $21.95
Reviewer clichés like “page turner” and “cannot put it down” come easily when describing The Bond – Survival on Denali and Mount Huntington.
It is an incredible tale of two young climbers from different worlds who met in 1977 and embarked upon an epic, three-year climbing odyssey that dramatically changed their lives and made history in Alaska alpinism.
Jack Roberts and Simon McCartney met for the first time in a bar, the Bar National in Chamonix, France. When they met, they were only 22 and already had impressive climbing resumes. Californian, Jack Roberts having made several first ascents in Canada, Yosemite and the Rocky Mountains, and British climber Simon McCartney completing several difficult routes in the European Alps.
The two young men made plans during that bar-room discussion in 1977 which resulted in a first ascent of the north face of 12,241-foot Mount Huntington in the summer of 1978. They followed that two years later with another first ascent, this time of the southwest face of Denali. They began their journey in June, and in early July nearly ended in tragedy. The dramatic rescue ultimately involved 30 climbers from six countries. After this bid, Simon McCartney dropped off the face of the map for nearly 40 years.
“The quintessential climbing story” Mountaineers Books
Out of touch with the climbing community during all that time, he did not know that his legendary climbing partner and friend, Jack Roberts, had died in 2012 at age 59 in a fall at Bridal Veil Falls in Colorado.
The pair were some of the first in mountaineering history to climb alpine style, traveling fast with a minimum of gear and provisions. The Bond is told in first-person by Simon McCartney and augmented by extracts from the diaries of Jack Roberts and others.
McCartney’s direct, honest and personal tone throughout the narrative makes this book appealing even to those who are not technical mountaineers. He tells stories of the more than nine-day assault on daunting seracs, ice-encrusted cliffs and overhangs of Mount Huntington, with only five days of food; or the merciless days of hunger, biting cold and privation on the unforgiving flanks of Denali. It is a very human story about a bond the climbers developed between themselves and others. It is about heroism and sacrifice at the extreme.
Their bond was so strong that through this book’s pages, it is certain to be felt deeply by readers.
A breathtaking spectacle: On several airplane trips to the Ruth and Kahiltna Glaciers, I have flown past Mount Huntington and stared in awe at its spectacular ramparts. While reading the day-by-day account of Roberts’ and McCartney’s ascent, I found it necessary to often refer to a photo of the massif’s north face. Since the mountain’s first ascent in 1964 by a French expedition led by Lionel Terray, on the northwest ridge route, it has been climbed by several routes and I am aware of two who died. But when you get close and personal to the mountain—and study the serac-encrusted flanks of its north side–you wonder how anyone, especially a couple of 23-year-olds with limited gear and resources, would dare take it on.
“A cannot-put-down book…a large dose of addicting adrenaline coupled with a virtue uncommon in mountaineering literature: insight into the shared and sorely tested feelings of two very different individuals.” Tom Hornbein, author of Everest: The West Ridge
The book is available through Amazon and local bookstores.