“Where You’ll Find Me: Risk, Decision, and the Last Climb of Kate Matrosova” by Ty Gagne was the first book suggested to me for my year of recommended reading. The suggestion came from a woman who I have come to know over the years through the library. She said she believed I would enjoy the book not only for its outdoor and hiking elements, but also because there is a lot in the book about managing risk and decision-making. Clearly, she has come to know me quite well over the years, too.
She is not the first reader to be wow-ed by the book and certainly will not be the last. Many have shared accolades when returning the book to the library, and just a couple weeks ago, another woman who was picking up books curbside and returning “Where You’ll Find Me” became wide-eyed when I asked her what she thought of it. Her response was, “It’s amazing. I read it in 5 hours straight.”
In part, the book is summarized as: “On Feb. 15, 2015, Kate Matrosova, an avid mountaineer, set off before sunrise for a traverse of the Northern Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Late the following day, rescuers carried her frozen body out of the mountains amid some of the worst weather ever recorded on these deceptively rugged slopes.”
The story of Kate and her recovery as it is told by author Ty Gagne has haunted me. While reading this book, it was the first time in two years that I have awoken in the middle of the night unable to shake the unsettled feelings arising from the story told. In the book Gagne describes how people watching the breaking news about Matrosova on WMUR news on Feb. 16, 2015 felt: “The story is hard to understand, you worry for all involved…” This is exactly how I felt reading the book.
As someone who has spent decades hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and appreciates the welcome solitude of hiking that especially comes in the winter, I empathized with Kate’s unflinching motivation and eagerness to take on the next challenge. I cringed and feared for the worst – even while knowing what the outcome would be – throughout the retelling of her journey up Madison and Adams. The writing about the rescuers, their connection to the mountains, and their heroic mission to find Matrosova was just as impactful. Knowing one of the search and rescue volunteers personally, I can say without a doubt that the compassion and selflessness of these individuals is just as real as how Gagne portrays them in these pages and is well worth our appreciation and acknowledgement.
Throughout the book, the author presents different theories and models of how we make decisions, from the workplace to on-mountain adventures. He emphasizes the consequences of our decision-making by examining how the decisions Matrosova made resulted in tragedy. Gagne does this well, presenting academic and organizational models in an easily digestible fashion.
I am grateful for the person who recommended this book to me. I learned a lot about search and rescue operations; my belief that Mother Nature is a humbling force was affirmed; and in the end this book brought me to tears. I am recommending this book to others, especially those who have spent time hiking in the White Mountains.
To read “Where You’ll Find Me,” click here to place a hold on the library’s copy.
Live outside of the Newfound Region? Ask your local library if they have a copy or can borrow one from another library for you to borrow.
Want more? Below are other sources related to the Matrosova recovery and other books and a documentary on similar subjects at the Minot-Sleeper Library
“Trader in the wild” article by Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-trader-in-the-wild/
Two stories from New Hampshire Public Radio (“Risk, Decision, and Death in the Presidential” and “Anatomy of a Search”): https://www.nhpr.org/term/kate-matrosova#stream/0
“The Last Traverse” by Ty Gagne
“Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer
“Not Without Peril” by Nicholas Howe
“No Way Down” by Graham Bowley
“K2” by Ed Viesturs
“The Last Man on the Mountain” by Jennifer Jordan
Up next: “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. This book will be discussed with the Minot-Sleeper Library’s Third Monday book group on Monday, January 25 at 10am. Copies of the book are available at the library and can be requested by calling 603-744-3352 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Already have a copy, but wish to take part in the talk about the book? Email me at email@example.com. We would love to have you join us for the discussion on Zoom!