Holding On – Jo Gambi

I had to post a quick link to a book, called Holding On. I have to say that it is without doubt on of the best books of any description that I have ever read.

As I may have mentioned previously, I have bought a few (well about twenty actually :)) books on various Everest and other Seven Summits expeditions, to try to satisfy my appetite for all things Himalayan etc. The thing which characterises many of these books is that they they are generally written by people who a.) clearly never intended to write a book in the first place, b.) have egos bigger than some of the mountains they climb, and c.) obviously aren’t the most enthralling of authors in the first place, and I am being kind. Take ‘The Climb’ by Anatoli Boukreev for example. It’s subject is the 1996 Everest disaster, and whilst the subject matter enthrals me, it is without doubt one of the most dull books I have ever read. It’s writer, whilst undoubtedly one of the most outstanding climbers on the planet, and also undoubtedly a hero in many respects, should really have stuck to the knitting in my opinion.

There are many more of that ilk, but this one, Holding On, is absolutely special in every respect. It is about husband and wife team, Jo and Rob Gambi, and their adventures in (successfully) attempting the Seven Summits and the two Poles. Their story is quite remarkable insofar as it is one inspired by, and in many ways driven out of, Rob’s two near fatal bouts of cancer.

One of the best books I ever read...

Jo and Rob obviously love each other more than life itself too, and so the book could have been a.) badly written, b.) overly labouring of Rob’s obviously horrendous experiences, and c.) a lovey dovey love-in, and less about the overall experiences they faced. Not only is it none of the above, it is quite simply brilliant in every respect. It does what a truly great book should: it gets you really involved with the characters in the book, even (and in fact especially) the bit part players; it keeps you turning the pages wanting more; it plays on your emotions such that you smile when the characters are happy and you want to share their tears when they are sad. Most of all, it actually crosses genres – many of these books about mountains are great if you are into climbing, because you have a thirst for knowledge on the subject matter. But this book is about so much more. It is about life, vitality, desire, emotions, hunger, compassion. It also entertains, and it educates on so many levels.

Jo and Rob Gambi have a website that I have just come across, and it seems that they have some very good news on there to share with the world too:


I’ll be taking a few more books with me into the Alps tomorrow incidentally. I have to just choose between the other nineteen or so that I have, and hope that I get close to enjoying any of them as much as this one. I won’t, I know that for sure. Priceless, and thoroughly recommended – go and buy it, I’d say!

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