3.5 out of 5 stars

As Fogle sat down at the table for a dinner at the Festival of Speed at Goodwood, he noticed that the space next to him was empty. The name said Victoria Gardener, someone he had never heard of. About 30 minutes later the person who was occupying that seat ran in and sat down. Turns out he had heard of her, but she was better known as Victoria Pendleton, the multiple gold medal-winning cyclist. They got chatting and hatched a plan together to head up the highest mountain on Earth. To do this Fogle needed to do two things, the first was to find someone who could help them do it. That was fairly straightforward as he roped in mountaineer Kenton Cool. The second was to persuade his wife, Marina that it was a really good idea…

It took a little persuasion, but she gave him the green light to prepare for the expedition. They would need to train in the Alps and other high mountain ranges before even making an attempt on the mountain and the team headed to La Paz in Bolivia. The plan was to conquer four mountains, with the final one being the 6500m Illimani which is a significant portion of what they would experience on Everest. This would give them the time that they needed to assess their own and the other team members performance at altitude. This was essential as the moment they went above the death zone on Everest all that preparation would be the fine line between succeeding and death.

The driving force behind Fogle in all the training and over the seven-week expedition to the roof of the world were the promises that he had made with Marina as he cradled his stillborn son, Willem. To be positive, to inspire, to embrace each day, to always smile, to live brightly and something that his grandmother had taught him, to always look up. And knowing that his family were waiting at home for him to return, gave him the inner strength that he needed.

Overall it is not a bad travel book, but it is as much about his personal journey and the relationship he has with Marina and their two children. Their stability means he has the chance to take on some amazing adventures, this being one of them. Having part of the book written by Marina is a nice touch too, she writes eloquently about the stresses and strains of having a husband most of the way up a mountain. We get so used to hearing about that author’s adventure, that we forget the normal life they have left behind. Still, an immense effort to stand on the roof of the world and a fitting tribute to his stillborn son.

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