Within Reach: My Everest Story by Mark Pfetzer and Jack Galvin

Within-ReachDuring August I usually write the books my children have to read for school. However, this year I am a bit behind. My life have been hectic (to say the least) the last three to four months. But I figured it’s better late than never.

That being said, I want to tell you about one of Marco’s summer reading books. He actually had to read two books this summer. One was assigned to him: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech and he also had to read a nonfiction book. For this he had to choose from a list of books provided.

The book Marco chose to read was Within Reach: My Everest Story by Mark Pfetzer and Jack Galvin.

I will first share with you what Marco wrote about the book at the beginning off the school year and, after that, I will give you my opinion.

The book is about Mark Pfetzer, the youngest person to climb Mount Everest when he was sixteen years old. The book is a first person narration in the form of a diary with Mark telling the story.

Mark began climbing when he was thirteen years old. Before he was able to summit in Everest, he prepared himself by climbing mountains in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Nepal, and Africa. He also had to train REALLY hard. He also had to learn how to survive in a mountain. He was not able to summit on his first attempt to climb Everest, when he was fifteen years old,  because he broke a rib and had to go back home. On his second attempt he wasn’t able to summit either because there was a big storm (some climbers died) and also his father was diagnosed with cancer.

I think it is important to learn about this topic because the main character, Mark Pfetzer, was the youngest person to ever climb Mount Everest. The story tells us about discipline, preparation and courage. It is an inspiring story that teaches us to never give up on our dreams.

Now, after that very short introduction from Marco, I will tell you what I think about the book (in a lot more words).

I really liked the book. I think it is a very inspiring story, perfect for young readers like my son. I am glad Marco chose that book from the list.

The message of the story is that you can achieve anything you want in life as long as you follow your dreams and work hard.

Mark was thirteen years old when he decided he wanted to climb mountains, and, after he made that decision, he started preparing for his biggest challenge as a climber: Mount Everest.

His parents were very supportive (I would have been scared to death while my boy was risking his life climbing a mountain for no practical reason!) and helped him in every way they could. However, Mark still had to work very hard finding sponsors to help pay for his climbing trips as well as the absurd amount of equipment he needed and his training.

My favorite character in the book is Mark’s father. I like him not because of what we see of him in the book, but because of how Mark sees him. And this is important because we see him through Mark’s eyes and through his memories, since most of the action in the book occurs while Mark is climbing and his father is back at home in Rhode Island.

Every time Mark is at the edge of quitting, he thinks about how strong his father is (he is a retired cop and the strongest man on Earth in Mark’s eyes). That was always a source of strength for him. After his father is diagnosed with cancer, he becomes an even bigger inspiration for Mark to follow his dreams.

By the end of the book you want to think that Mark, not only will get to summit in Mount Everest, but also that he will accomplish all his dreams.

As a side note, the upcoming movie Everest is based on the climbing expedition on 1996, which was Mark’s second attempt to summit. When Marco and I watched the trailer, we immediately recognized the events and decided that there’s no way we are watching that movie. We already know what happens and it is too sad to watch on screen.

Movie aside, this book it’s definitely a good present for any teenager in your life.



  1. Todos los relatos de aventuras me gustan aunque nunca entenderé pq alguien se quiera someter a esa tortura y gran peligro de llegar a la cima del Everest. Vi la película, es triste pero también me da mucha rabia que por culpa de un egoísta murieran tantos por ayudarlo.

    1. Lo mismo pienso yo, querida. Todo muy emocionante, pero prefiero estar en mi casita, con una taza de café y leyendo sobre las aventuras de otro 😉

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