From the first time I saw it, the picture--a portrait of the Thumb's north wall--held an almost pornographic fascination for me. On hundreds--no, make that thousands--of occasions over the decade and a half that followed I took my copy of Mountaineering down from the shelf, opened it to page 147, and quietly stared. How would it feel, I wondered over and over, to be on that thumbnail-thin summit ridge, worrying over the storm clouds building on the horizon, hunched against the wind and dunning cold, contemplating the horrible drop on either side? How could anyone keep it together? Would I, if I found myself high on the north wall, clinging to that frozen rock, even attempt to keep it together? Or would I simply decide to surrender to the inevitable straight away, and jump?
~ Jon Krakauer, The Devil's Thumb, essay from Eiger Dreams
The man can flat-out write.
It shouldn't surprise you (especially if you've read him, or any mountaineer-author, for that matter) that he goes on to climb it. Thereby hangs the essay--and another post.