About this book
With his life literally hanging from a slender rope over a crevasse near the top of a Himalayan mountain, a young man relives in his mind a relentless two-year physical and spiritual test as a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote mountain village of Nepal.
Combining the elements of adventure story, travel log, and personal confession, this absorbing account describes a wrenching experience that belies the idealistic expectations of many Peace Corps volunteers.
Following a two-year stint as a science and mathematics teacher in a Nepalese village, Phil Deutschle sets off alone on a three-month expedition to conquer Pharchamo, 20,580 feet high, which has claimed several lives and is his final goal in the Himalayas.
This trek forms the framework of the book, and into it Deutschle weaves the story of his experiences over the previous two years in a series of sharply etched, swiftly moving, often humorous anecdotes.
Deutschle is not starry-eyed about Nepal and its people or, least of all, about the mission of the Peace Corps. He vividly describes events that are both horrible and poignant: being charged by a rhinoceros, the awful fascination of watching a corpse burn on a funeral pyre, the struggle to save a child's life, scaling a Himalayan peak higher than Mount McKinley (the highest mountain in North America). Despite his difficulties, he steels himself to stay one year, then the full two years, and, imperceptibly, grows so attached to the village that he leaves it in tears.
Mourning the "small death" of his departure, confused about his identity as an American, and feeling more alienated than before, he sets off on a final, reckless, solo climb of Mount Pharchamo, hardly caring whether he survives. Apathetic from lack of oxygen and from his own malaise and only when his life literally hangs on a slender rope, does he overcome despair and make a gigantic effort to save himself.
The two parts of the book – the emotional challenge of the village and physical challenge of the climb – come together in a triumphant affirmation of life.
A native Californian, Phil Deutschle is currently teaching handicapped children in Denmark.
The Two Year Mountain was originally published by Bradt in 1986 and remains as relevant to the spirit of exploration and real, raw travel writing today as it was then.
About the author
The author's other adventures have included cycling across the Kalahari and Namib deserts, getting captured by pirates while canoeing down the Congo River, hunting with Bushmen, and falling through a crevasse while ice climbing unroped in the Andes. Currently living in Salinas California, teaching physics and astronomy, he says I have never owned a car, which makes me a true counter-culture freak in the US.
March 15: Tribhuvan International Airport
March 16: Dube Village
March 17: Thoripaani
March 18:Thoripaani 7,200 feet
March 19:Deuraauli 8,000 feet
March 20:Waapsu 6,700 feet
March 21:Karikhola 6,800 feet
March 22:Chaurikharka 8,500 feet
March 23, 24:Namche Bazaar 11,286 feet
March 25:Namche Bazaar 11,286 feet
March 26:Thyangboche 12,687 feet
March 27:Pangboche 13,074 feet
March 28:Pheriche almost 14,000 feet
March 29:Lobuche 16,175 feet
March 30:Lobuche 16,175 feet
March 31:Lobuche 16,175 feet to Kala Pattar 18,192 feet
April 1:Lobuche Village to Lobuche East
April 3:Lobuche 16,175 feet to Everest Base Camp 17,700 feet
April 4, 5:Lobuche to Pheriche to Chukung
April 6:Chukung 15,518 feet
April 7:Island Peak High Camp 18,400 feet
April 8:Island Peak High Camp 18,400 feet
April 9:Pheriche almost 14,000 feet
April 10:Tshola Tsho 15,000 feet
April 11:Dzongla 15,889 feet
April 12:Nyimaganoa Camp 17,300 feet
April 13:Kangchung Himal Camp 17,700 feet
April 14:Kangchung Himal Camp 17,700 feet
April 15:Gokyo 15,720 feet
April 16:Gokyo Kang 17,600 feet
April 17:Dole Village 13,400 feet
April 18, 19, 20,21:Namche Bazaar 11,286 feet
April 23:Thame 12,500 feet
April 24:Patch of Yak Grass 15,700 feet
April 25:Tasi Lapcha Pass around 19,000 feet
April 26:Tasi Lapcha Pass 19,000 feet
April 27:Tasi Lapcha Pass
April 28:Tasi Lapcha
'A remarkable book… Described in very graphic and downright frightening terms.' Chris South, BBC Radio
'I found The Two-Year Mountain interesting as much for the writer's own growth in relating to, and valuing a culture, way of life, and traditions so totally in contrast with that of his own.' Lord Hunt, Leader of the First Successful Mount Everest Expedition
'I have read The Two-Year Mountain with pleasure.' Victor Zorza, The Times, London
'Well worth reading, especially for anyone intending to trek in Nepal. It tells you far more about that endlessly fascinating country than any half dozen of your average climbing narratives.' High Magazine, British Mountaineering Council
'As much an autobiography as a travel book.' The Good Book Guide, Winner of the Queen's Award for Export Achievement
'… [Phil Deutschle] .. describes [his journey] here agreeably, in affable, informal style.'
Good Book Guide