‘Ernest Shackleton listed those qualities an explorer should possess over a century ago: optimism, patience, idealism with imagination, and courage. Vanessa’s qualities are truly akin to these’ ALEXANDRA SHACKLETON
When Vanessa O’Brien was made redundant in 2008 as part of the recession, she moved to Hong Kong with her husband for his career and resigned herself to being ‘just the wife’. There she was, aged 46, bored, uninspired, unemployed. Was this going to be how she was going to live the rest of her life?
One night in the infamous Kee Club, over shots of tequila, a friend suggested O’Brien climb Everest, and that was the start of an epic journey she never looked back from as she climbed Everest, K2 and many other mountains.
This is her inspirational story. As O’Brien says, she couldn’t explain to her readers how she got to the top of K2 at the age of 52 without being honest about what came before. In To the Greatest Heights, she reveals the trials and tribulations of her difficult childhood, and the result is a life-affirming book that shows how she achieved these climbs in spite of and because of her past.
To read To the Greatest Heights is to know that there is a path to overcoming the worst of what happens to us, a path that helps us reach the summit of our lives too, whatever our age.