Thin White Line by Andy Cave


Title: Thin White Line
Author: Andy Cave
Publisher: Hutchinson - 2008
Price: £18.99

Thin White Line is the sequel to Learning to Breath, Andy Cave’s bestselling debut book which was joint winner of the Boardman Tasker Prize in 2005 and winner of the Adventure Travel Award at the Banff International Festival.


Thin White Line picks up where Andy left off with his last book, Learning to Breathe. Reeling both mentally and physically from his ascent of the north face of Changabang and the tragic death of his climbing partner, Andy’s honest account of his struggle to recover from the impact of these events and rediscover his love for the mountains makes compelling reading.

During this book we travel from the Peak District to the Himalayas, from Norway to Patagonia and from the European Alps to Alaska, in the company of many of today’s leading mountaineers and climbers.  Andy reveals the personal challenges he had to overcome to return to extreme climbing, following the death of his climbing partner Brendan.  Through various expeditions into the mountains, Andy starts to challenge himself again and slowly starts to deveolp a new appreciation for the environment he has loved for so long.  Slowly he is pulled back to the challenging routes that have always been his favoured lines and with the likes of Mick Fowler and Leo Houlding, to name but two, Andy takes the reader with him to some of the worlds most beautiful and remote mountain locations.

Throughout the book Andy embellishes the narrative with details about the areas he visits, snippets of mountaineering history and tales of the various characters that he meets on the way.  From base jumpers in Norway to ski plane pilots in Alaska, this kind of additional detail really adds an extra depth to the book, making it stand apart from other titles in the genre.

Andy’s style of writing is extremely readable, moving at a decent pace but still providing the reader with enough detail that they can easily picture the scene and appreciate the challenge that confronts the climbers in question.  This is something that is not easily achieved; many other famous mountaineers have disappointed their readers by brushing over detail or getting so bogged down in it that the story is lost.

Overall Thin White Line is a masterpiece and one which we are sure is destined to receive as many, if not more awards than its predecessor.  Through this book Andy has demonstrated not only his prowess as an international alpinist, able to tackle some of the hardest lines on the planet, but also his exceptional talent with the written word.  We would recommend this book to anybody and are hoping that Andy already has plans for a third!

Andy Cave was born into a mining family and is now a cutting-edge alpinist with several formidable first ascents to his credit.  He has a PhD in socio-linguistics and is an IFMGA international mountain and ski guide.  You can find out more about Andy at his website

Thin White Line can be purchased directly from Random House for £18.99.

Review written by Giles Thurston on June 03, 2008


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