4 out of 4 stars
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Denali, Kilimanjaro... Everest. These were nothing more than popular names to David Mauro. Nothing more than just names until tragedy struck; striking in that gradual, successive way it is known for; breaking you down until you believe there's nothing left you have to lose... This was the situation author David J. Mauro found himself at some point in his life in his autobiography, The Altitude Journals.
Having had a pretty rough family background, Dave's adult life saw better days financially and otherwise. He got married, had children and life was as stable as it can get for a long time, until his marriage started going downhill. Things turned ugly from that point on as Dave battled with holding his marriage intact and with his personal mental breakdown, without any seeming breakthrough in sight. The marriage was finally dissolved with all the quagmire a divorce leaves in its wake. Depression set in, and Dave believed he could go no lower than he had been thrown into at that point.
Denali, Kilimanjaro... Everest. None of these names was written anywhere in Dave's mental bucket list until that low and miserable point in his life. It was then he began to court the idea of accepting the Denali expedition invite from his brother-in-law. From there, Dave began bringing himself up from a dark depth to high summits. Dancing around between a conviction in instinctive calls and skepticism about the unknown, that was in any case, a defining period in Dave's life. In making that life changing step, Dave takes us all the way through the doubts, fears, difficulties and joys of his mountain climbing journey from North America's Denali to the famous Mount Everest in the Himalayas.
The Altitude Journals is a long, detailed read divided into parts that mark each mountain the author summited, setting them up like chapters. Each part in turn, has a number of subheadings that are made up of several paragraphs that make developments in each climbing adventure easy to follow. It was therefore easy to see how David Mauro's life was a metaphor of his climbs, and easily, vice versa. Each mountain was a metaphor, inclusive of each climb and camp along the way; a symbolism of the gradual self empowerment the author battled to achieve each day. For the finding of love again. For the depressing and uplifting times that came in and out so quickly. For the exciting accomplishments and dreary exhaustion from the struggle... The mountain climbs covered almost every aspect; metaphorized them.
This read would leave a reader with a ton of knowledge about mountains and mountain climbing. This aspect personally intrigued me, because I didn't have any previous idea about mountaineering. Readers would also enjoy the abundant inspiring metaphors scattered about the book. One of the many I liked was - "the only way to fully experience love was to get out of the car, shed your devices of self-protection, and risk the consequences... "
I can hardly point out any part of the book that did not appeal to me. David Mauro strikes me as a person very attuned to his feelings and activities. Although he made it known that he kept a consistent journal, his mindfulness is still remarkable and inspiring, and this is apparent in his writing style. His plot pace is slow where necessary - during climbing expeditions, and fast where fitting too - events between each expedition. I barely found areas that seemed masked or too defensive; Mauro was realistic in revealing several weaknesses and sharing his strengths therein.
With all sincerity, I rate The Altitude Journals 4 out of 4 stars. I found no typographical or structural error, so it was obviously professionally edited. There are very few swear words - as few as can go almost unnoticed. People who do not find very detailed adventurous appealing may consider skipping this one. Nevertheless, everyone, especially people who love a realistic life story, can read and be inspired by this book.
The Altitude Journals
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