I have never reviewed a book before. So let’s give it a go. This book is called Dare to Reach – L’Aventure d’une Vie.
Theodore (Ted) Fairhurst is a Canadian businessman, artist, traveller and mountaineer. Rather like me he had been infected by the mountain bug in his early years. But the symptoms took a while to reach a fever pitch. Late in life, at the age of 58, after a career as a property developer he decided it would be a good idea to climb the Seven Summits – the highest peak on each continent. I know the feeling.
I came across Ted by chance a couple of years ago when I was researching those who were attempting the Volcanic Seven Summits and made contact with him. Then, aged 70, he was seeing if he could climb all the volcanoes within the year. We have kept in touch since. So I declare my interest!
The expressed intention on Ted’s part for writing the book “is to highlight the amazing life stories we all experience when we are willing to DARE TO REACH our dreams and goals”. That explains a part of the title. Ted has teamed up with Emmanuel Daigle, a fellow Quebecois and a trekking guide and high altitude specialist. That explains the other part of the title. They write the book in both English and French. Ted’s part is in English with a French translation and Emmanuel’s in French with an English translation. Depending on whose story you want to tackle, you flip the book over and start to read. I enjoyed testing out my schoolboy French.
Both narrate and relate experiences and show how they can develop you as a person. In Ted’s case this included getting lost in a New Guinean jungle; in Emmanuel’s it was embarking on a remarkable 24 hour running challenge.
Dare to Reach is Ted’s “watch-phrase”. It is an exhortation to explore the boundaries of what you think is possible for you and to go beyond. A novel (at least for me) feature of the book were the QR codes popping up throughout the book. A never previously used app on my phone was soon working overtime to see what I would find. Some direct you to their websites and others to “Dare to Reach” videos. And one takes you to a YouTube video of Ted’s showing a passage through the Khumbu icefall on Everest that has been watched (wait for it) 3.8 million times.
The two of them are not afraid to dwell on their failures. After all lack of success will often provide you with important learning experiences. In that way one grows. Emmanuel’s story of learning the hard way about the effects of altitude particularly resonated with my first amateurish attempts at climbing high. You soon learn what it takes!
Although there is a focus on mountaineering, there is a lot more in terms of appreciation of wider adventures, cultures and landscapes. But inevitably you always return to the mountains and the life lessons, the preparation, the desire and motivation and the outcomes. One phrase I particularly liked was “You must focus on one thing or you will die. Your capacity for resilience determines your outcome”. This was in the context of an Everest climb. Often in life you will meet your own “Everest”. OK, death may not be a risk, but focus and resilience are often as important as anything when you are on the edge.
Ted is now the oldest person to have climbed both the Seven Summits and the Volcanic Seven Summits. Emmanuel is somewhat younger but has a similar outlook on life and will, I am sure, make waves in his own Aventure d’une Vie.
Ted and Emmanuel self-published their book via crowdfunding – the modern way! It is in hardback and has 107 pages. It is full of inspiring pictures. The one taken from Camp 3 on the Lhotse face down Everest’s Western Cwm is stunning (and reproduced above). Well worth a read. Do you Dare to Reach?
Here is a video that Ted has produced showing his journey around the Seven Summits and the Volcanic Seven Summits.