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Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest: A hill walker's journey to the top of the world

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As he teetered on a narrow rock ledge a yak's bellow short of the stratosphere, with a rubber mask strapped to his face, a pair of mittens the size of a sealion's flippers, and a drop of two kilometres below him, it's fair to say Mark Horrell wasn't entirely happy with the situation he found himself in.

He was an ordinary hiker who had only read books about mountaineering, and little did he know when he signed up for an organised trek in Nepal with a group of elderly ladies that ten years later he would be attempting to climb the world's highest mountain.

But as he travelled across the Himalayas, Andes, Alps and East Africa, following in the footsteps of the pioneers, he dreamed up a seven-point plan to gain the skills and experience which could turn a wild idea into reality.

Funny, incisive and heartfelt, his journey provides a refreshingly honest portrait of the joys and torments of a modern-day Everest climber.

409 pages, ebook

First published December 1, 2015

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About the author

Mark Horrell

25 books35 followers
For many years Mark Horrell has been writing what has been described as one of the most credible Everest opinion blogs out there. He writes about trekking and mountaineering from the often silent perspective of the commercial client.

For nearly 20 years he has been exploring the world’s greater mountain ranges and keeping a diary of his travels. As a writer he strives to do for mountain history what Bill Bryson did for long-distance hiking.

Several of his expedition diaries are available from the major online bookstores. He has published two full-length books: Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest (2015), about his ten-year journey from hill walker to Everest climber, and Feet and Wheels to Chimborazo (2019), about an expedition to cycle and climb from sea level to the furthest point from the centre of the earth.

His favourite mountaineering book is The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E. Bowman.

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5 stars
193 (48%)
4 stars
136 (34%)
3 stars
58 (14%)
2 stars
9 (2%)
1 star
3 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews
Profile Image for Rachel.
8 reviews
October 9, 2020
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Loved the author's humour throughout. Thought the time taken to give us the historical and human context of various climbs undertaken by the author, as well as his personal perspective on taking on some incredible mountains made for a great combination and kept me hooked. Would recommend for any hill walking mountain lover - or anyone for that matter!
15 reviews
November 22, 2020
Warm and inspirational story of mountaineer that once was hillwaker. Steps defined in the book sets you up for a journey that might be applicable anyone with ambition to climb Everest!
Profile Image for Natalie.
74 reviews5 followers
April 8, 2018
After spending the last few weeks reading what Horrell refers to as mountaineering "disaster porn", it was refreshing to read something a little lighter. Furthermore, it was wonderful to read about a guy climbing mountains who didn't spring from his mother's womb with an ice axe in hand, which seems to be the case for the protagonists of the more popular mountaineering books. Actually, the degree to which Horrell's journey is one I can relate to made this book an absolute delight to read. In fact, up until around about his fourth "step", the escalating difficulty of his adventures matches my own travel history so closely, it's almost uncanny, and I thoroughly enjoyed following him on his journey into what for me currently remains an unknown - expedition life, climbing higher and higher peaks, and finally "the big one". There is something incredibly satisfying about a mountaineering book written by somebody who started out as an ordinary guy, and the book is written with humour and honesty and a refreshing appreciation for the fact that the average reader may NOT know the name and purpose of every piece of climbing equipment, or enjoy reading pages-long descriptions of the geographical features of mountains. (My biggest criticism of "Touching the Void" was the excessive amount of page time given to descriptions of "flutings" and "cornices" and God-only-knows-what-else - features I had never seen and couldn't picture in my mind.)
Profile Image for Val Robson.
520 reviews35 followers
October 7, 2020
This is a great reference book for learning about amazing climbs in all the major climbing areas of the world going back to the 19th century.

Mark's story was also interesting but I kept missing it as I was skipping a lot of the historical information about previous climbs and expeditions. Some of that is interesting but there was just so much detail that I couldn't take it all in and it was detracting from the story I wanted to read.

The above was hard enough but the constant unnecessary use of similes and jokey comment just made it almost unreadable. I guess it is the author's sense of humour but I found many quite puerile. Things like 'Personally I wouldn't sacrifice a single finger for a first ascent, however significant, any more than I would sacrifice my penis for a night with a supermodel' and 'one thing worse than being gored to death by a rhino then it's probably being humped to death by a rhino'. There were just dozens like this which made me almost put this book down permanently at times.

I wouldn't have persevered except that I've spent time in Nepal and really wanted to read about his time there and his thought on the treatments of the Sherpa people. I was quite upset with that too at the end as he recommends climbing Everest from the Tibetan side as he blames the issues surrounding Sherpas on the Nepalese government. Like the Chinese government is preferable!

8 reviews1 follower
January 9, 2021
I have walked up Snowdon numerous times, and on a quiet day it’s hard to beat. Thinking of climbing, rock or ice, makes my palms sweat. Just typing that sentence has made my hands go clammy. Hence my intrigue that a walker, perhaps like me, could walk up significantly higher mountains than Snowdon. The relatability of the book makes it a very engaging read.

Mark tells his story of mountaineering from the perspective of a paying client on commercial expeditions, and he tells it well. Perhaps with more similes than necessary. But it is refreshing to hear this side, rather than from those who were born with ice axe in hand, or are only chasing world records or online followers.

It’s an entertaining book, following Mark as he progresses up more and more technical peaks. It is an honest account of the work needed to succeed and be safe in the high mountains, which is something that I think can’t be overstated – and the discussion of the different criteria commercial outfits have for their clients was eye-opening.
Profile Image for Wes F.
1,089 reviews13 followers
April 18, 2020
I greatly enjoyed this first-person description my Mark Horrell of his long 10-year journey enabling him to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Starting out as a "hill walker" or day trekker, Horrell never initially envisioned himself standing on the pinnacle peak in all the world. But, step by step, he upped his game, tackling more & more difficult peaks, and gaining the experience, fitness, and knowledge that would allow him to climb up the North Face of Everest, from the Tibetan side. Great to read about all his various climbing adventures that took him to at least 4 continents. One can see his passion & appreciation growing over the years for the mountains and the people/culture of the mountains. This book is a great introduction to some of the historic climbs & breakthroughs in climbing--and does a great job of giving insight into all it takes to do something as incredibly difficult as summiting an 8,000+ meter mountain.
Profile Image for Carl Nelson.
822 reviews3 followers
June 25, 2020
Seven Steps from Snowdon to Everest is Mark Horrell's account of how he caught the summit bug which took him from the gentle peaks of England to the top of the highest mountain in the world. The narrative itself is both practical and interesting, as he relates his path to gain the skills necessary for extreme alpine environments and the lifestyle changes he made to enable extended mountaineering expeditions. The read is light-hearted thanks to Horrell's understated and self-deprecating sense of humor.

In most mountaineering accounts, I'm struck by the differences between me, a weekend hiker, and the mountaineers who have devoted their lives to physical and mental preparation for their sport. This account underscored the similarities, with Mark as an "everyman" who focused on a goal and achieved it through brains and hard work.
33 reviews2 followers
May 19, 2017
Seven steps to Everest

What a book !!! A book that I fancied reading after reading the blurb. At the beginning a thought I'd made a mistake as it was a little slow. As i ventured further into the boom I was hooked and found it compelling reading. It is light hearted in places. A thoroughly enjoyable read with a very detailed account of what really happens and the amount of work needed to achieve a dream\goal, the message all the way through to keep going a d not to give up. To reach your goa!l is quite an achievement. I am really inspired. I will keep this book and reread at a later date. I'd recommend this book to anyone who love a good true story.an inspiration to others who are thinking of climbing Everest for a challenging climb, loaded with information
3 reviews1 follower
September 13, 2018
Ok, I downloaded this book to my kindle with full intentions of loving it, the beginning of the book was great and I could imagine everything perfectly because Snowdonia is where I live, I walk Snowdon a hell of a lot!

But, after that, to me it just felt one toned, I could not get into it! The chapters were unbelievably long, I kept picking it up, putting it down, picking it up, putting it down and was getting quite annoyed about all the comparisons that the author had put in! (they are literally all over the place!)

However, about 60-70% in, I picked it up, and was hooked at the rest of the book, it flew by! I am giving it a 3 star because I enjoyed the first part of the book and the ending of the book but for about 50% of it, I just was not feeling it.
Profile Image for Courtney Schafer.
Author 5 books288 followers
April 8, 2016
I read this after enjoying Horrell’s The Chomolungma Diaries—the latter covers only his guided ascent of Everest, and I was curious to read about his experiences on other guided ascents leading up to the Everest climb. The book certainly delivers on that score, and I continued to enjoy Horrell’s self-deprecating humor and “regular guy” narration. (The flaws of the narration also remain the same: Horrell does well at portraying his own character and thoughts, not so well at memorable portraits of his fellow climbers.) Like The Chomolungma Diaries, I’d recommend the read to anyone with an interest in trekking and mountaineering.
9 reviews5 followers
May 21, 2016
What a fantastic book! I downloaded the Kindle version of the book as I've always been interested in Everest and this book appealed as it also mentioned Snowdon in the title.

It's nice to read a mountaineering book that doesn't focus purely on drama. Although the author does cover some of the terrifying and less palatable aspects of climbing, I came away from the book thinking the author seemed like a normal bloke, instead of a reckless maniac, harbouring a death-wish.

The stories in the book are told with great humour and although technical mountaineering terms are used in parts, I completely enjoyed the book as a self-confessed arm-chair explorer.

Profile Image for The Lynchster.
14 reviews
September 19, 2017
Factual, Funny, Fascinating

This book details one man's journey both physically and psychologically from climbing the wonder that is our own Snowdon to the highest point on the planet. Laced with facts from the 'firsts' of our era and compassion for the lives and danger of the Nepalese race in general, this book has some proper lol moments and also recommendation for two of the best guided mountain tour operators across the globe (see what I did there!). This is a must-read for us real people who wonder 'could I ever climb Everest?' If you're looking for in-depth technical know how on how to conquer the big one, this might not be for you. Read it anyway. I loved It!
Profile Image for Kieran.
201 reviews11 followers
June 6, 2021
Was our Kindle read in the tent over the last few years, very much enjoyed reading this adventure on our own adventures!
Profile Image for Stacey Cole.
192 reviews5 followers
November 8, 2019
Positives - really enjoyable to read about more than one mountain, this book includes chapters on Snowdon, Kili, and the Cordillera Huayhuash, with references to other mountaineering books I’ve read like ‘Touching the Void’.

The history of the first and following ascents of Everest.

An up to date viewpoint on recent disasters and deaths related to Everest.

Negatives - the unnecessary use of about a billion unfunny similes! They littered every paragraph almost and really annoyed me, just no need for them and it did spoil my overall view of the book.
Profile Image for JoJo.
628 reviews1 follower
March 25, 2018
The author can make you really understand what climbing a seriously high mountain can feel like. Unlike so many other climbing books this one is written by someone that you could see yourself being - not en elite athlete, but a human being with a drive to visit the top of the World. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in mountains, hiking and trekking but also to those who just like a jolly good, and humorous read.
Profile Image for RiversideReader.
12 reviews1 follower
February 4, 2020
I quite enjoyed this book. Mark Horrell has a light fun touch in his writing making the reader feel as if he were a friend. He also gives us brief historical information on the different mountain treks/climbs he has been on and the colorful people he has met along the way. I feel he is quite honest in his assessment of his own and others achievements. This is not "disaster porn" but a well written adventure book. I look forward to reading more by this author and I do follow his blog.
77 reviews1 follower
June 25, 2020
I enjoyed reading this book as I’m always intrigued by folks who make it their life’s goal to climb Mt. Everest. But this book was so much more then an Everest story. It’s extremely detailed as to the how, why and where of mountain trekking and mountain climbing. I think this could also be the first book where tall inanimate objects have become characters in someone���s story. If reading about climbing mountains at 8000 meters is interesting to you...this is your book.
101 reviews
May 9, 2018
What an unassuming book about a beautiful journey to the top of the world! Mark Horrell details his experiences as a walker in interior Britain who takes on challenge after challenge in his own way to get to the top of Everest. Entertaining, self deprecating and poignant, the casual undertones in this book belie his efforts and hard work to reach his dream. Such a refreshing combination, this!
274 reviews1 follower
January 24, 2019
I'm a largely former walker and got as far as between Step 2 (high altitude walking) and Step 3 (high altitude summits). If you can get past a few terrible jokes this is a really interesting read about how someone went from being scared of heights on Snowdon to climbing the highest mountain in the world.
1 review1 follower
June 24, 2020
I really enjoyed this book as you really gain a sense of Marks totality of his adventures to this point. It is an honest view from the perspective of a client of commercial expeditions all around the world and it has inspired me to do this myself one day. I will continue to enjoy reading his adventures for many years to come!
Profile Image for Eamonn Clarke.
15 reviews2 followers
February 13, 2016
Splendid account of a self confessed hill walker with a fear of heights on the journey that led him from Snowdon to Everest.

Plenty of wit, plenty of history, and plenty of scary moments. Thoroughly engrossing and makes me want to get back out on the mountains.
Profile Image for Karl Elliott.
37 reviews5 followers
August 9, 2016
Fantastic read. Very enjoyable.

Well written, full of good interesting historical facts about mountaineering and funny as well. Highly recommended.
I am inspired to head out to the hills again.
3 reviews1 follower
January 5, 2018
This is a sort of culmination of the various other books which Mark has written over the years and is the first in terms of an actual 'book', rather than an edition of diaries.
It is definitely a treat for people who are interested in this topic.
9 reviews2 followers
July 7, 2016
fantastic story couldn't put it Mark has followed a path I wish I could have gone down when I was younger I'm still just on Snowdon lol
3 reviews
April 9, 2017
Really entertaining. Thoroughly enjoyed this book
Displaying 1 - 30 of 41 reviews

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