TAP DANCING ON EVEREST | Kirkus Reviews

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Recollections of a courageous journey.

In 1988, Zieman, then a 25-year-old medical student, signed on as the medical officer for a team of climbers aiming to ascend the challenging East Face of Mount Everest. As she recounts in a lively, gritty memoir, the project was daunting: “Our small team of six had four climbers, a photographer, and me.” Besides taking a route that had been climbed only once before—with a large team and more guides—her team “were purists, nimble, using no oxygen or Sherpa support.” Her decision to go confounded family and friends. However, as the author demonstrates, it was consistent with her other bold, if unconventional, decisions. For example, as a high school student, despite her mother’s disapproval, she took tap dancing lessons with Broadway as her goal; in college, she spent summers at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory; and in 1985, she took off for Nepal, a rugged trip that ended with a bout of shigella dysentery. “I had felt confined by various boxes and expectations,” writes Zieman, including “cement apartment building, immigrant family, Jewish Orthodox community, and my own list of shoulds.” But if being a child of Holocaust survivors instilled her with “shoulds,” it also gave her the example of reinvention. “Perhaps,” she muses, “part of my birthright was to wander.” It also instilled in her an ethos of hard work, daring, and determination. Daring certainly was a requirement for the risky, arduous Everest expedition, which confronted her with physical, medical, and emotional challenges: getting to base camp, for example, which was supposed to take five days but took 22; daily avalanches; and the heart-stopping fear that three of the climbers had perished. Zieman’s brisk narrative conveys both the tension and triumph of a wild adventure.

An engaging memoir about “taking risks” as “a path to growth.”

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 9781493078431

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Falcon Guides

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024



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