This month I review Where You’ll Find Me: Risk, Decisions, and the Last Climb of Kate Matrosova by Ty Gagne (TMC Books LLC, ISBN 978-0-9962181-5-3, paperback). This fateful climb, which took place in New Hampshire’s White Mountains on February 15, 2015, continues to captivate hikers and non-hikers alike.
Kate Matrosova had been blessed with tremendous intelligence and ambition. She was healthy and fit, and enjoyed the challenge of climbing mountains in her spare time. Completing this one-day winter hike in the Presidential Range would add to her impressive list of mountaineering accomplishments. Sadly, though, despite Kate’s excellent physical condition and a meticulous plan for this ridgeline traverse, she would not survive.
The author describes Kate’s hike in superb detail, and while doing so introduces the reader to two professional guides who each took clients hiking on nearby Mount Washington that same day. The reader is given a window into the minds of these experienced professionals, who are paid to assess risk for their clients. The reader gains an appreciation for how winter hikes are successfully executed, and learns about various aspects of winter hiking, such as the importance of thermoregulation, hydration, and equipment selection.
The author does a tremendous job describing the rescue operation which began the instant Kate activated her personal locator beacon. It is truly a fascinating account. The reader really gets a sense of what it was like for the men who hiked up in dangerously cold conditions in an attempt to save Kate. The strength, bravery, and professionalism exhibited by those who participated, many of whom were volunteers, is simply inspiring.
Mr. Gagne writes clearly, and the story is told with respectfulness. His efforts produced a book that will serve as an accurate and compelling record of Kate’s hike and the remarkable effort to save her. The book also provides the reader with useful perspectives on risk assessment and decision-making.
This book is highly recommended. I couldn’t put it down. It’s a powerful reminder that life is fragile, and that we should never risk a lot for a little – whether we are on the hiking trail, driving on the highway, or working in an office.
That mountain will be there another day.
-William Browne, doghillmedia.com columnist
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