(Reviewed by Ishita RC)
In a span of thirty years, Hans Florine has captured the intricacies of the Nose of El Captain over one hundred times. The book talks about ‘the wildest competition known to man and the spirit with which Hans has captured numerous titles.
I think it’s my itch for the world of travel that is changing my focus from the usual cabaret of fiction to the world of non-fiction.
Why on earth would anyone climb the Nose one hundred times (or 101 times, as of the date of this publishing)? I’m not sure that’s the right question. How about this one: Why on earth would anyone work a job they don’t care about, day after day, for 261 days a year? Or this one: Why would someone who has a choice settle for “good enough” instead of going after great?
The anecdote from the author explains the entirety of the book. While the preview paints a stark picture of why Yosemite is considered as one of the greatest rock climbing feats, the simplicity with which the geophysical elements are described for the layman helps in creating the first step through which the reader is going to see this book. The tone of personal narration helps in understanding and appreciating the grit and determination the author has towards his obsession with the Nose. From a fledgling in the rock-climbing career and his first failure that ended in 14 hours, the author has beautifully recounted his growth in character and personalisation while respecting the nature that has challenged him and provided him with the strength to overcome that very challenge. The true essence of the book is this very growth and journey and as a reader, I personally resonated well with this more than anything else.
Looking back, I think the collaboration was extra appealing to me because it flew in the face of the idea of El Captain as a battleground. I loved competition, but I’d choose collaboration over war any day.
For an autobiography to be successful, it requires everything: the journey, the hopes and dreams, the colorful personalities that comes with friendships and rivalries. The author was successfully able to capture that and take the readers along for a reminiscing journey. For a novice like me, some of the technical aspects of rock climbing might appear to be baffling; to be honest I didn’t even know such things existed. Having been a novice once, Hans understands this very dilemma and has made the effort to make it simpler for the reader to understand, appreciate and get intrigued by it. I definitely am. The easy style of writing shows his familiarity with the role of mentoring and the candid bond it requires.
I absolutely loved the book. I may not ever get into the scene of rock climbing, but the vivid picture of the sport and the Yosemite definitely keeps calling to my attention.