There Must Have Been an Angel: The Cross-country Odyssey from Badwater, Death Valley, to the Summit of Mount Whitney

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9781463765118: There Must Have Been an Angel: The Cross-country Odyssey from Badwater, Death Valley, to the Summit of Mount Whitney
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...an epic 125 mile cross-country trek—280 degree direct route compass heading—that took two men from Badwater, Death Valley (282 feet below sea level) to the summit of Mt. Whitney (14,495 feet). It was October, 1989, with temperatures ranging from 110 degrees to 50 degrees below (windchill); across some of the most hostile, treacherous and desolate terrain in the land....

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About the Author:

Lee Bergthold has spent the past 50 years trekking across remote regions of the desert and mountain Southwest United States. He travels solo, and with hand-picked, pre-trained companions who specialize in survival techniques. The author still maintains a rigorous schedule of 80 to 100 days a year in the backcountry, roaming isolated regions where few others dare to tread: Northern Nevada to the Mexican Border; Utah to the Sierra Nevadas...all points between. Bergthold’s forays range from 10 days to 35 days, specifically when exploring Donner Party migration routes. Bergthold is authoring three other books: To Walk Away From Battle Mountain; The Night of the Triangle; and The Hastings Cutoff. Bergthold is a former Marine (Korean War) and is professor of Photography/Photojournalism at Antelope Valley College, where he also conducts survival seminars.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Former Marine and survival expert Bergthold (To Walk Away From Battle Mountain, 2013, etc.) documents his grueling trek from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney. In October 1989, Bergthold and a longtime adventure companion set out on a 14-day odyssey through the most extreme climates and barren regions of North America. Armed with carefully selected gear and food, the men arranged to pick up water at checkpoints as their only form of outside aid, no small feat in a pre-cellphone era. Bergthold uses his trip diary and memory to reconstruct one travel day per chapter, describing in detail meager rations, odd camping spots, hard-core survival techniques, frantic water searches and wildly varying temperatures. The memoir excels at communicating the grandeur and terror of the wastelands: “The macabre, wind-swept landscape made us suddenly see and feel the effect of an outlaw wind that had nowhere to go except in all directions. It had nothing better to do than to blast an already taxed land and to batter the living beings.” Bergthold shines when explaining the internal motivations that impelled his Frodo-like quest as well as the nirvana attained during the final ascent to 14,000 feet on Mt. Whitney in severe winter weather. Largely driven by the thought of hardships faced by ancestors and the softness of modern humanity, which he and his companion deplore, Bergthold writes passionately of trying to measure up to these “real men” of yore who did battle with nature. A few issues prevent this otherwise exciting narrative from unfolding with maximum dramatic impact. For one thing, the lack of details about the men’s “real lives” prior to the trek limits the reader’s emotional investment in their journey. One often wonders where these decontextualized wanderers hail from and who might be waiting for them to come back. Second, the author considerably undercuts the climactic effect of reaching the summit of Mt. Whitney by frequently overusing exclamation points, italics and sensational adjectives throughout earlier chapters. A riveting if unevenly paced survival story that covers both interior psychological and exterior geographical terrain.

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