The Unsung Challenges of Everest: A Review of Matt Dickinson’s North Face


With North Face, Matt Dickinson has produced yet another exciting and intelligent novel for young adults.

The sequel to The Everest Files, North Face continues the story of Ryan, the teenage student who is spending his gap year in the Himalayas. Ryan’s role in the story, although important, is secondary. The central character in this novel is Tashi, a Tibetan girl trying to help her family cope with oppression by a brutal regime. Deprived of their nomadic living, Tashi and her family find a new life assisting trekkers and climbers on the forbidding slopes of Everest. Even still, they are hunted and victimized by the Chinese authorities

Matt Dickinson is a talented writer, who brings to life the harsh environment of the world’s tallest mountain in a manner that is breathtakingly real. Reading North Face, I could almost feel the grinding cold tearing at my extremities, imagine the struggle to breathe the thin air thousands of feet above sea level, and see the figures of other climbers appearing like ghosts through freezing fog.

With both The Everest Files and North Face, the mountain itself, with its hostile environment, serves as a metaphor for the challenges faced by the people who live and work on its slopes, the Sherpas of Nepal in The Everest Files, the Tibetans in North Face. In both novels, Dickinson demonstrates a warm regard and immense respect for these people, whose livelihoods depend on repeatedly risking their lives to help climbers negotiate the terrifying slopes of this deadly mountain.

North Face has an action-packed plot that moves rapidly from one thrilling set piece to another, scenes that include devastating avalanches, exciting rescues, and daunting mountain ascents. But this is also a story about social responsibility, about different kinds of bravery, and about considering the consequences of our actions. North Face is entertaining, informative, and inspiring.

Find out more about Matt Dickinson and The Everest Files here.


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