Whether at elevation or raising a family back at sea level, those years taught him, he writes, “to distinguish matters of consequence from matters of inconsequence.” He leaves it to his readers, though, to do the final sort of which is which.
Some of his travels made, and remain, news: the first American ascent of K2; the first direct coast-to-coast traverse of Borneo; the first crossing on foot of a 300-mile corner of Tibet so remote no outsider had ever seen it. Big as these trips were, Rick keeps an eye out for the quiet surprises, like the butterflies he encounters at 23,000 feet on K2 or the furtive silhouettes of wild-eared pheasants in Tibet.
What really comes through best in Life Lived Wild, though, are his fellow travelers. There’s Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, and Doug Tompkins, best known for cofounding The North Face but better remembered for his conservation throughout South America. Some companions don’t make the return journey. Rick treats them all with candor and straightforward tenderness. And through their commitments to protecting the wild places they shared, he discovers his own.