Mark's book is finally coming out next week!! Just as a short history of why I am excited about this book is that Kirk (ex-drag racer who is doing headstands/ see below) and I are both in the book. We took Mark on his 1st winter 14er climb a few years ago and Kirk took him on a few other climbs. Hope you also pick up the book which will be for sale on Amazon also at this link:
Enjoy and I will post some comments on my thoughts after reading it later in the week, I should have my copy in the next couple of days. Also if you are interested the dates and locations of the book tour is at the end of this post.
Announcing the Release of
Halfway to Heaven
My White-knuckled – and Knuckleheaded – Quest for the Rocky Mountain High
By Mark Obmascik
Fat, forty-four, father of three sons, and facing a vasectomy, Mark Obmascik would never have guessed that his next move would be up a 14,000-foot mountain. But when his twelve-year-old son gets bitten by the climbing bug at summer camp, Obmascik can’t resist the opportunity for some high-altitude father-son bonding by hiking a peak together. After their first joint climb, addled by thin air, Obmascik decides to keep his head in the cloud and try scaling all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains, known as the Fourteeners – and to finish them in less than one year.
The result is Halfway to Heaven, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Obmascik’s rollicking, witty, sometimes harrowing, often poignant chronicle of an outrageous midlife adventure that is no walk in the park, although sometimes it’s A Walk in the Woods – but with more sweat and less oxygen. Half a million people try climbing a Colorado Fourteener every year, but only 1,200 have reported summiting them all. Can an overweight, stay-at-home dad become No. 1,201?
With his ebullient personality and sparkling prose, Obmascik brings us inside the quirky, colorful subculture of mountaineering obsessives who summit these mountains year after year. Honoring his concerned wife’s orders not to climb alone, Obmascik drags old friends up the slopes, some of them lifelong flatlanders tasting thin air for the first time, and lures seasoned Rockies junkies into taking on a huffing, puffing newbie by bribing them with free beer, lunches, and car washes. Among the new friends he makes are an ex-drag racer trying to perform a headstand on every summit, the lead oboe player in a Hebrew salsa band, and a climber with the counterproductive pre-climb ritual of gulping down four beers and a burrito.
Though danger is always present – the Colorado Fourteeners have killed as many climbers as Mount Everest – Mark knows his aging scalp can’t afford the hair-raising adventures of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, and his quest becomes a story of family, friendship, and fraternity. In Obmascik’s summer of climbing, he loses fifteen pounds, finds a few dozen man-dates, and gains respect for the history of these storied mountains (home to cannibalism, gold rushes, shoot-outs, and one of the nation’s most famed religious shrines.) As much about midlife and male bonding as it is about mountains, Halfway to Heaven tells how weekend warriors can survive them all as they reach for those most distant things – the summit of mountains and a teenage son. And as one man exceeds the physical achievements of his youth, he discovers that age – like summit height – is just a number.
Advance praise for
THE Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled – and Knuckleheaded – Quest for the Rocky Mountain High
By Mark Obmascik
Published by Free Press of Simon
and Schuster · Release date: May 12, 2009
“The author maintains a breezy narrative style, a keen eye for nature’s beauty and a self-deprecating tone that makes his marathon journey fly by. His story and those of many of the free spirits he meets along the way vividly demonstrate the thrill of taking the road less traveled. Highly readable, entertaining and educational.’’
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Hilarious midlife picaresque… the result feels like a raucous bowling night, with moderate oxygen deprivation, on the brink of an abyss.”
Parade Magazine May 10 issue
“With every lumbering step and gasping breath, Mark Obmascik proves that you don’t have to scale Everest to conquer nature – or write a great book about the great outdoors. Halfway to Heaven is an oxygen-deprived romp, a coming-of-middle-age adventure story that is by turns hilarious, gripping, poignant, and uplifting.”
Stefan Fatsis, author of A Few Seconds of Panic and Word Freak
“The mountains of Colorado reach great heights, and so does this book. It’s funny, smart, fascinating, poignant – and well worth scaling!”
Jeffrey Zaslow, coauthor of The Last Lecture
“I thank Mark Obmascik for writing an enlightening and funny book. And I thank him for climbing a bunch of tall mountains so I don’t have to. I was with him for every oxygen-deprived step of the way (as I lounged on my sectional sofa).”
AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All
“As Obmascik chases the meaning of life across the haute peaks of the Rockies, he touches something in your heart even while he knocks on your funny bone. Halfway to Heaven is deft and delightful. Always minding his wife’s admonition never to hike alone, Obmascik proves once again that it’s the journey – and the characters met – not the summits, that really matter the most.”
Dean King, author of Skeletons on the Zahara
“Obmascik tells the often funny, sometimes moving, always fascinating story of taking up the challenge of a midlife-time to climb all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains. He takes us into the strange world of obsessed mountaineers – past and present – and vividly describes the ardors, dangers, and joys of chasing that Rocky Mountain high. Whether you ever plan to climb a mountain – or just want to summit one from your armchair – Obmascik’s engaging style makes him the perfect companion for the trip.”
Susan Freinkel, 2008 National Outdoor Book Award winner for American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree
“Halfway to Heaven, Mark Obmascik's account of his quest to climb all of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, should prove an inspiration to middle-aged mountaineers everywhere. For all of his comically recounted misadventures, Obmascik has the true mountaineer's love of high places, and a professional writer's gift of conveying that love to the reader.”
Maurice Isserman, coauthor of the 2008 National Outdoor Book Award winner, Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes
“Halfway to Heaven goes all the way in explaining what it feels like to climb all of Colorado’s fabled Fourteeners. Obmascik’s excellent writing follows more than the twists of the trails; mark generously laces his quest for the heights with insights, history, humor, politics, personalities, record runs, friends, family, flora, and fauna. Halfway to Heaven is a fortune cache for everyone.”
Maurice Gerry Roach, author of Colorado’s Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs
Mark Obmascik is the author of The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession, a national bestseller that received five Best of 2004 citations by major media. He was lead writer for the Denver Post team that won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, and winner of the 2003 National Press Club award for environmental journalism. He lives in Denver with his wife, Merrill Schwerin, and their three sons, Cass, Max, and Wesley.
Tuesday, May 12
7:30pm, Boulder Book Store
Thursday, May 14
7:30pm, Tattered Cover/LoDo
Monday, May 18
University Book Store
Wednesday, May 20
7:30pm, Powell’s City of Books
Thursday, May 21
7:30pm, Capitola Book Café
Friday, May 22
7:30pm, Book Passage
Corte Madera, CA