Ken Jones is a former soldier, avid outdoorsman and keen mountaineer. His book recounts a terrifying, and frankly astonishing, fight for survival.
In the Winter of 2003, Ken decided to go it alone in the Transylvanian Alps. His mission was to climb Mount Moldoveanu entirely unsupported. At 2500 metres, Moldoveanu is the highest peak in Romania. What transpired was a story of sheer agony at hands of the brutal Romanian wilderness.
Ken introduces his book with an eloquent description of his avalanche encounter. From there on in you’re hooked. The chronicle of his journey from ‘smoke to snow’ as he makes his way out of civilization and out the Fagaras mountain range is sublime.
The expressive narrative conjures up images of ethereal landscapes and a desolate wilderness haunted by the shadows of Dracula himself.
In his isolation, you just want to be there. You want to be him. Just for that moment. To be completely disconnected from everything.
Then disaster strikes. The first avalanche was a surprise to me – probably more so to Ken – but his heart stopping escape was miraculous in itself. No such luck with the second avalanche though and it hits you like a sledgehammer. Every agonizing, nail biting moment has you pitching and rolling along with Ken as he descends the mountain at an incomprehensible rate.
What follows then is a testament to the human spirit, a three day bone crunching, frost bitten feat of endurance. An ordeal that would frankly have left most people pushing up the Transylvanian daisies.
Ken has you feeling every injury, every ounce of pain, every jagged stone and every degree that the temperature drops. His journey to the bottom of the mountain is agonising, both for the adventurer and the reader.
He may then have physically been out of the woods, but metaphorically, it was just the beginning of his journey. Ken was left broken (literally) and in need specialist surgery and so the road to recovery was a long and winding one. The story of which by the way leaves nothing to the imagination.
It’s a big compliment that this book reminds me of Joe Simpson’s Touching the Void. Anyone who enjoys tales of adventure, hardship, human endeavor and the great outdoors will love this book.
And I’ve learnt two things. Firstly, how to know which way up you are if you’re ever caught in an avalanche. Secondly, always, always, always – zip your pockets up.
That’s my new life motto.
Ken’s book is available to buy on Amazon. I’m not affiliated with Ken in anyway. I just love his book.
Photo taken by me of my copy.