At the age of sixteen, Andy Cave followed in his father's and grandfather's footsteps and became a miner - one of the last recruits into a dying world. Every day he would descend 3,000 feet into Grimethorpe pit.
But at weekends Andy escaped from the pithead to a very different world - testing his nerve on the cliffs and mountains around Britain, and forging endearing friendships with his new companions.
Enduring the 1984-5 miners' strike - the guilt, the broken friendships, the poverty - Andy continued to indulge his passion. In 1986, after much soul searching, he quit his job as a miner in order to devote himself to mountaineering. At the same time he decided to educate himself, acquiring almost from a standing start academic qualifications including a PhD in socio-linguistics. This extraordinary twin odyssey is graphically recalled in this remarkable book.
In the Himalaya in 1997 Andy achieved a courageous first ascent on one of the steepest and most difficult summits in the world - the North Face of Changabang. Seventeen days later, he and only two of his team-mates crawled into base camp, frostbitten, emaciated and traumatised. His account of this terrifying experience provides a dramatic climax to this compelling story.