Psychovertical is the story of what happens to a nice lower-class kid with dyslexia who gains control over his circumstances by clinging to giant stone faces, thousands of feet in the air, for days at a time. In this case, Kirkpatrick uses his 12-day solo climb of the Reticent Wall on California’s El Capitan as the experience that helps him understand how growing up poor and struggling with dyslexia and low self-confidence set him on a path of extreme adventure.
Kirkpatrick’s writing is gripping and highly entertaining — even non-climbers will enjoy his raw intensity, gallows humor, and honest, self-deprecating storytelling style. This book is a Boardman-Tasker Prize winner, which is recognition given for outstanding mountaineering literature. From the judges’ remarks:
“The book is very cleverly structured….The cuts from scene to scene and climb to climb work wonderfully well — a sort of mountaineering Day of The Jackal — as Kirkpatrick comes closer and closer to his nemesis on Reticent Wall. And it is this climb, the running narrative of the book, that grips the most: 14 pitches of aid climbing, unrelieved by conversation with a partner other than himself, should by rights be boring. But it grips the heart further and further.”