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Tess Burrows, 'Cry from the Highest Mountain'

TravellersEye, 2002. ISBN: 1 90307 012 0, 252pp

Tess Burrows set out to climb Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador, knowing it would be a challenge she was prepared for a physically tiring journey that would push her to the very limits of her capabilities. Little did she know, however, that the spiritual journey she would undergo while climbing Chimborazo would far surpass the strenuous physical one.

In this autobiographical true story, Tess, her partner Pete, and their friends Mig and GT are the integral members of the Climb for Tibet team. Their goal is to climb to the point furthest from the centre of the earth to symbolically promote peace for Tibet and the earth as a whole.

Prior to their journey, the team collects peace messages from well-wishers all over the globe, including many they meet along their journey, for the purpose of reading atop the highest point in the world. Tess explains why Chimborazo, and not Everest, is technically the highest summit in the world: Because of the oblate spheroid shape of the Earth, Chimborazo is some 2,150 metres further from the centre of the earth than Everest. Tess and her team long to reach the highest physical point on earth, just as they strive for the highest level of peace on Earth.

The going is often rough for the Climb for Tibet team members, and reaching the summit proves more difficult than even they had planned. While Pete and GT are experienced climbers, Tess and Mig have little climbing experience and often struggle to keep up with the others. Throw into the mix varying levels of training and acclimatisation to altitude and you get a truly frustrating situation.

Although grammatically sloppy at times, Cry from the Highest Mountain is a powerful and deeply moving story. Burrows fills the pages with Tibetan wisdom and spirituality, lending the book a sacred, peaceful tone. Cry from the Highest Mountain is of course appropriate for someone interested in the Free Tibet movement, but it may also be of interest to anyone looking for inspiration in any major undertaking.