ENEVA, SWITZERLAND / BOOK MY PLACE – More than forty years have passed since the plane disaster in the Andes and the astounding survival of sixteen of them after Nando and Roberto, ill-equipped, weak and starving, made their desperate climb over the Andes to Chile.
Piers Paul Read’s Alive electrified the world and other survivors have given their accounts of the series of chilling episodes, the moments before the crash, the crash and ferocious suffering in the aftermath of severely injured survivors, the avalanche that took eight more of them, the horrifying news that rescue attempts had been abandoned, and the steady progression towards starvation of the group.
In a moving and harrowing account, Pedro Algorta has finally broken his silence, telling his personal story with no claims of heroism; an honest and gripping reliving of the ordeal from his original state of shock, through the stages of learning to cope at a high altitude in sub-zero temperatures; an explanation of how his survival instinct became part of the team’s working together to live another day. The account is so direct and honest that we are living his memories with him.
We learn of the aftermath; how the survivors returned to life, probably living the lives they would have lived had those 72 days never occurred. Part Two, Forty Years On, gives us Algorta’s reflections on the experience and his conviction that we are capable of climbing our own mountains.
This English translation of Las Montanas Siguen Alli was created by John Guiver who has twice visited the site of the crash. Algorta says “I would like to thank John Guiver who spontaneously offered to translate my book, and who, in the end, has provided me with a translation that has allowed me to express myself better in English than in my native language.”
The translation is superb with no rocky moments when the reader is conscious that he is reading a work that originally appeared in another language. I am privileged to know that John Guiver, before taking on this task, had no Spanish. In this astonishing feat, he has climbed his own mountain.