Instead of indulging in something predictably romantic on Valentine’s Day, the School spent Tuesday morning contemplating Himalayan mountain peaks and rock climbing. Professional climber, mountain guide and author Freddie Wilkinson, whose cousin is alum John Wilkinson ’81, gave a morning meeting presentation on a trip he took with his wife and a few friends to hike the mountain Saser Kangri II. Their presentation, which featured photos and several videos of the trip, transported the audience into a world of steep rock faces, intense climbing, and glorious, snowy views.
Wilkinson also recently published One Mountain Thousand Summits, a work of creative nonfiction about the tragedy that took place on the mountain K2 on August 1, 2008. K2, the second highest mountain on earth, is considered to be much more challenging and dangerous than Mt. Everest. The story centers on the tragedy which occurred when a group of hikers experienced difficulty descending from the peak. Ultimately, eleven people perished, making this the worst accident in the mountain’s history. The few survivors, who were badly injured and had experienced severe frostbite, were unable to recall details about many aspects of what happened on the mountain, shrouding the story in mystery.
Wilkinson, after blogging about the tragedy, wondered why no one had interviewed the Nepalese sherpas, who had also been on the trip with the hikers. He decided to pursue this tip and was able to record their versions of what happened on the mountain that day, adding a valuable perspective to the story.
Wilkinson and his wife met with the first three class blocks of the day, discussing the process of writing the book, and answering questions about hiking and his travels. Following his visit with C Block, one student said, “I guess Monadnock doesn’t seem as hard of a hike anymore!”