Thursday 11 April 2024

To Dare the Dream


One must conquer, achieve, get to the top;

one must know the end to be convinced that one can win the end,

to know there’s no dream that mustn’t be dared.

George Mallory


This is the quote from which I’ve drawn the title of my new short novella/long novelette To Dare the Dream. I had already written the story, and was on the third or fourth draft when I came across it and realised how perfectly the sentiment expressed in it fitted with what I’d try to convey in the 16000 or so words I’d consigned to paper. Whether or not George Mallory was successful in his attempt to conquer the summit of Everest will remain forever a mystery (fittingly so in my opinion) and although I provide my own answer in the story what I really wanted to explore was his motivation, obsession even, with climbing the highest mountain in the world.

Regarded as one of, if not the finest climbers of his generation, it would be only natural for him to want to achieve the ultimate prize in mountaineering. A competitive spirit was part of it of course but his relationship with mountains went beyond them merely being a challenge to his skills, he had a genuine affection for the high places and loved simply being among them.

During the course of my research into his life and career, another possible source of motivation for him to climb Everest became apparent. The disaster which occurred on his first expedition to the mountain may well have provided impetus for his second attempt two years later, a sense of guilt at what had happened spurring him on in an attempt to somehow make amends for what had happened.

His experiences as an artillery officer in the trenches of World War One may have given an explanation as to why he should feel this guilt and this episode in his life features in To Dare the Dream alongside other sections detailing his early climbing expeditions in the Alps, his lecture tour of America, his ascent of Pillar Rock in the Lake District as well as the ill-fated 1922 expedition and the final summit attempt in 1924. There’s also some allusion to the significance of the number seven… Although based on real events, and featuring real people Mallory knew and climbed alongside, this is a work of fiction.

Like Mallory I love the mountains too and writing To Dare the Dream was a real labour of love. It’s now available as an ebook for Kindle and a (slim, 85 page) paperback here.

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