A Mountain Too Far
A Father's Search for Meaning in the Climbing Death of His Son
by Karl H. Purnell
Relaxing in his study on a rainy New Year's Day, Karl Purnell waits for a call from his twenty-eight-year-old son, Chris, to say he has safely returned home after mountain climbing. But Karl's quiet afternoon is suddenly interrupted by a call, not from Chris, but his ex-wife, who informs Karl that Chris has been killed in an avalanche.
Angry and bitter, Karl curses the dangerous activity which claims so many lives each year, and he questions the motivation of his son to have taken such risks. Unable to come to terms with his son's death and find peace, Karl decides to retrace his son's climbs from the rock walls of Yosemite National Park to the French Alps and up the Himalayan mountains.
During his exciting journey, Karl encounters not only snow, ice and perils, but his son's friends—helpful and experienced climbers who teach him the code of the mountains—and finds his own life in jeopardy during a dangerous night trek in Northwest Nepal.
As Karl struggles to understand his son, he begins to feel the mountains' awesome power and terrible beauty. He realizes why his son loved climbing and was willing, as Karl always had been, to risk his life to reach the pinnacle of his dreams. Ultimately, in his own thrilling climb to the summit, Karl discovers the physical and spiritual strength his son Chris has left behind.
A Mountain Too Far is the adventurous, deeply moving and dramatic tale of a father's cathartic journey to deal with the unexpected death of his son and find not only healing, but himself.
"Purnell's journey is as far-ranging as Ulysses'. In this
tender pilgrimage we see, as Wordsworth once pointed out, the
child can be the father of the man."
— Washington Post
"Poignant. Readers will appreciate his willingness to share
his personal, spiritual journey of healing."
"Incredible...a powerhouse of emotional intensity, gritty
honesty and startling clarity."
— NAPRA Review
"Very moving and articulate. Recommended for public and
— Library Journal
"Clear-minded, loving and unsentimental."
— Publishers Weekly
*Featured in Washington Post's Book World, Palo Alto Daily
News and Sunday Patriot-News
*Excerpted by Dial-A-Book
Karl H. Purnell is a prize-winning newspaper editor and former Vietnam War correspondent whose articles have appeared in many magazines and newspapers. A graduate of Harvard University with a degree in English Literature, he is also a playwright whose plays about the Civil War have been produced in theaters throughout the United States. He currently resides in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania.
A New Horizon Press Release
6 x 9, 304 pages
LC #00-132565, world rights
ISBN: 0-88282-204-7 (hc), $24.95