Sometimes the striving for the accomplishment is more memorable than the accomplishment itself; and ultimately, when looking back, one realizes that both the striving and the accomplishment, took place simply because of love. It is just this emotion that comes out from every page of the book, Just For the Love Of It by Cathy O’Dowd. She is from Johannesburg, and decided to apply for an Everest Expedition that changed the course of her life.
As she writes, “Within the next three-and-a-half years I was to become the first woman in the world to climb Everest from both its south and north sides. I was to encounter death on the mountain in its most traumatic forms. I was to become both famous and notorious in South Africa and beyond. I was to give up my planned career as an academic to go into expedition and adventure work full-time. I was to fall in love with the expedition leader. And it was all for the sake of one decision on 19 November 1995.”
Cathy was involved in some tough situations on the climbs. One is when she and team leader Ian were descending the summit meet Bruce who is climbing towards the summit. As the leader, Ian had to make a hard choice whether to allow Bruce, who was his best friend, to reach the summit or order him to climb down. What he decided and what happened brought much controversy.
In another situation, Cathy sees a body while climbing. It is a fact that on Everest, one comes across dead bodies of climbers who were not so lucky. Due to the snow, these bodies remain intact and preserved for decades. Cathy had her share of coming across such dead bodies, but one particular body changed her mind to climb any further. That body was alive. Should she leave the unfortunate climber and continue for the summit (since it was so close), or abandon the climb and help? This was her moral dilemma.
The book takes readers on a magnificent journey to the summit of Mount Everest, not once but twice. It makes you experience the entire emotional cocktail that Everest presents. As Cathy puts it, you learn that “…failure is survivable, that success is great fun and that in the end it is the many steps of the journey that really matter, what you learn in taking each one of them and where they lead you to. Each summit reached simply opens up a new view of further mountains to explore. The journey goes on for a lifetime.”
This book is a superb true saga of a very courageous woman, told very simply and straight from the heart.