Limits of the Known

Limits of the Known

by David Roberts


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


A Finalist for the 2019 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing

A celebrated mountaineer and author searches for meaning in great adventures and explorations, past and present.

David Roberts, "veteran mountain climber and chronicler of adventures" (Washington Post), has spent his career documenting voyages to the most extreme landscapes on earth. In Limits of the Known, he reflects on humanity’s—and his own—relationship to extreme risk. Part memoir and part history, this book tries to make sense of why so many have committed their lives to the desperate pursuit of adventure.

In the wake of his diagnosis with throat cancer, Roberts seeks answers with sharp new urgency. He explores his own lifelong commitment to adventuring, as well as the cultural contributions of explorers throughout history: What specific forms of courage and commitment did it take for Fridtjof Nansen to survive an eighteen-month journey from a record "farthest north" with no supplies and a single rifle during his polar expedition of 1893–96? What compelled Eric Shipton to return, five times, to the ridges of Mt. Everest, plotting the mountain’s most treacherous territory years before Hillary and Tenzing’s famous ascent? What drove Bill Stone to dive 3,000 feet underground into North America’s deepest cave?

What motivates the explorers we most admire, who are willing to embark on perilous journeys and push the limits of the human body? And what is the future of adventure in a world we have mapped and trodden from end to end?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393609868
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 02/20/2018
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

David Roberts is a climber and mountaineer and the author of thirty books about mountaineering, exploration, and anthropology. His books have won the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature, the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Book Competition, and been shortlisted for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. He lives in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Prologue xi

1 Farthest North 1

2 Blank On The Map 47

3 Prehistoric 5.10 85

Interlude: The Quest For The Other 121

4 First Descent 133

5 First Contact 171

6 The Undiscovered Earth 207

7 The Future Of Adventure 253

Note on Sources 299

Acknowledgments 303

Customer Reviews