~ S P E C I A L ~ F E A T U R E ~


Confrontation on Mt. Wrangell

~ an excerpt from the new book ~

WILD ANIMUS

by Rich Shapero

INTRODUCTION WILD ANIMUS

The excerpt, below, is from the new book WILD ANIMUS by Rich Shapero. The novel is set on the West Coast of North America, from Los Angeles through Portland and Seattle up to Fairbanks, Alaska, and the wilderness beyond. The text reads like a naturalist's impressions of climbing Mt. Rainier, the Cascades, Mt. McKinley, and ultimately Alaska's remote volcano, Mt. Wrangell.

The excerpt involves a confrontation between members of a climbing party on the icy upper reaches of Mt. Wrangell. The main character in the novel, Ransom Altman, has financed the expedition with money saved by his girlfriend, Lindy. The leader of the outing, Harvey Parrish, is a veteran climber hired by Ransom. The rest of the team has been lured with promises of reaching the summit, but now Ransom wants to change direction and visit a hot crater instead. Who will win this icy cold showdown?

WILD ANIMUS was written, in part, during author Rich Shapero's 400-mile solo trek through treacherous mountain terrain. Set in the late 1960s and early '70s, it is an acid-tinged climb through some of the most forbidding territory on the planet, and ultimately asks, "Which is more precious, a person's life or his vision?"

More information about the book, WILD ANIMUS, and author, Rich Shapero, follows the excerpt. Rich will be conducting a blog tour to talk about WILD ANIMUS and the Alaskan wilderness. If you can, please join him December 8-10 at one of these sites:


~ EXCERPT ~

Confrontation on Mt. Wrangell

by Rich Shapero

Ransom woke in a smaller tent to find Skimmer sitting up, watching him. Erik was dressing, silent and distant. Gloster was muttering outside. The occupants of the other tent were already stirring. Ransom laced his boots and crawled out. Harvey was putting zinc on, Gloster attaching his crampons. Bull stooped over the stove, making breakfast. At the edge of the camp, Yank was tromping the snow.

"Set up nicely," he said. There was rime on the wands. "Hard, but not too hard--" He turned back to the tents, saw Ransom, and went quiet.

Gloster nodded at Ransom. Harvey glanced in his direction, then turned and put his harness on without a word.

"Perfect," Ransom said, gazing around. His breath was steaming. The rising sun reflected off every edge and nick of the dome, as if the thousand eyes of Animus were watching.

Bull glanced at Harvey. So did Yank and Gloster. Erik emerged from the tent, realizing instantly something was up.

Harvey flinched. "Damn thing always pinches my nuts," he laughed, tugging at the harness. "Thought we'd run to the top."

Ransom nodded. "I'm for it."

"The group wants to go for the summit." Harvey gave him a regretful look.

"You mean the North Crater."

Harvey didn't respond directly. He glanced eastward, at a tangent to the icefall, to where the serac field gave onto smooth slopes. "We'll never get up the fall. We've got a chance of making it if we do what we originally planned."

Yank gave Gloster a look of triumph. Erik knelt beside them, watching.

"We could follow that alley," Ransom pointed. "Get through the rest of these seracs by noon." He stepped toward the icefall. "That alley there--"

Harvey dove for him, grabbed his parka, and pulled him back inside the safe area. Ransom had walked right between two wands. "There's not enough time," Harvey said, eyeing him sadly.

Bull turned to Ransom. "Even the direct way's a stretch."

Ransom saw the forces aligning against him. "Maybe we forget the icefall," he said, facing Harvey's route. "Take your way to the crater."

Harvey glanced at the others.

"Shit," Gloster said.

Erik made a disbelieving sound.

"Come on, Harv," Yank exploded angrily. "Show some spine."

Harvey grew morose, upset by the decision he was being forced to make. His instincts as a climber prevailed. "We're going for the summit," he said gently.

Gloster stiffened and rose, expecting a harangue from Ransom.

But Ransom just nodded. Was it the conversation of the night before, or his dream? Or something that occurred to him just then? "Alright," he said.

Harvey tried to smile. "You're coming."

"No."

Harvey gazed uncertainly at the others. Yank shrugged.

"Ransom--" Harvey's expression was troubled.

"Go ahead," Ransom said, understanding. "You've put up with a lot." He scanned their faces with sudden generosity. "It's the least I can do."

Harvey glanced at Bull.

"Maybe it's best," Bull murmured. The sentiment seemed to seal things.

Skimmer stepped out of the tent. "What's up?"

Harvey saw his duty. "We're going for the summit. Ransom's staying here. What do you want to do?"

Skimmer turned to Ransom, stunned.

"Go with them." Ransom's eyes were gentle and forgiving.

Skimmer was speechless.

"Maybe it's best," Ransom said, thanking Bull with a gracious smile.

Harvey lifted his pack. "Be back in eight to ten hours," he told Ransom, "assuming the weather holds. We'll start down tomorrow morning."

Fifteen minutes later, the climbing team was winding through the seracs beyond camp. From his position ahead of Bull near the rope's end, Skimmer glanced back one last time. Then they disappeared around a block. Ransom stood at the edge of the wanded area, watching. His set smile faded.

It had been a simple bit of duplicity, but now that he was really alone, the magnitude of the idea that had struck him fell heavily on him. He wasn't really sure he was going through with it. No, by dispatching the others, he'd only bought time to consider it. He turned and stepped back to the tent, drawing on his mitts. He found his pack and brushed the drifted snow off. Then, abruptly, he straightened. What was he thinking? It would be dangerous beyond anything he'd imagined. Insane, even for him.

He turned in a half circle in a vague effort to ground himself. The snow beyond the wands glittered with prismatic sequins that shifted magically, winking out and springing to light no matter where he looked. The vacant camp seemed shabby and artificial -- the stage set of a play, for which there was no further use. He gazed at the track of the departed climbers, then down the flank of the dome at the lowlands and the coast, realizing how far he'd come, how removed from humanity he was. Instead of giving him the courage to cut loose, it made him want to crawl back, to beg Lindy and everyone else to pardon his foolishness.

Then he saw the steam.

From a blue depression beside the icefall, a white gyre was rising into the sky. Heat! Animus was speaking to him from inside the dome. Calling him.


About the Author

Rich Shapero

Rich Shapero grew up in California and headed north as soon as he could scrape the fare together. Captivated by the staggering beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, and the dare of its dangerous side, his explorations have taken the form of meditations on transcendence.

For Shapero, the primeval landscape tests not only human endurance, but the boundaries of the human spirit. Whether circumnavigating Chichagof Island by sailboat, dog sledding the Arctic, or traversing 400 miles of mountainous terrain solo -- as he did while writing WILD ANIMUS -- Shapero's focus has been on the exploration within. The real goal, he maintains, is a fresh discovery of ourselves.


About the Book

WILD ANIMUS
by Rich Shapero
Published by Too Far
ISBN 0-9718801-0-7, 6 1/2" x 9 1/2", 315 pages, hardcover, $19.95.
Available through this site or directly from the publisher:
http://www.toofar.com

WILD ANIMUS

Published by Too Far Available through this site or directly from the publisher:

"Reading WILD ANIMUS is like climbing, skiing or intense adventuring. It puts you in the 'time is now' state."
-- Mike Libecki, World-Class Mountain Climber
Contributing Writer, Climbing Magazine

"WILD ANIMUS will stir your emotions and is a book you will not soon forget."
-- Eric Brand, Extreme Mountaineer

How far would you go to find yourself? In Rich Shapero's provocative debut novel, a young man rejects a normal life to follow a wild, inner calling.

Sam Altman, disillusioned with the world of the 60s, has fallen deeply in love with the mysterious Lindy, a young woman who inspires him to seek the foundations of his heart. She understands his quest, and will do anything to help him realize it -- no matter how dangerous.

Sam's unleashed and increasingly unhinged imagination drives them north to the remote Alaskan wilderness. On the unforgiving ridges of Mt. Wrangell, alone with his wayward ideas, Sam, who has renamed himself Ransom, gradually transforms himself into a ram -- prey to a pack of strangely familiar wolves.

The mad pursuit leads from the wilds to civilization and back again. And when Ransom and Lindy return to brave the perilous mountain together, the truth behind his imagined transformation emerges. What they discover in those frozen heights threatens their love as well as their sanity and their lives.

More than an adrenaline-charged adventure, WILD ANIMUS is a search for the primordial and a journey to the breaking point. It is a story of love and sacrifice, of obsession, of finding the limits of the heart and going one step farther.


Copyright 2004 by Rich Shapero. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to duplicate and distribute this file, as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact. Thank you.