I am honored that this book was shortlisted for the Boardman-Tasker Award!
Below is a link to a selection of the book's photos:
Through Dangerous Doors is an engaging and snappily written reflection on a life charted by risk. Like the dangerous mountains he eventually comes to climb, Lee’s need to be on the edge and in the flow guide him on a fascinating ascent up the American socio-economic pyramid, a challenging mountain in itself, and geographically from the lowland South to high country of the North. Small wonder that when Lee and his wife arrive in Calgary, Alberta to live for a decade they immerse themselves in what Lee wisely comes to realize is one of the most dangerous, yet spiritually rewarding mountain ranges in the world - the Canadian Rockies. Lee’s lifelong evaluation, and refinement of, the risk versus reward calculation is educational. And I love the way he calls poppycock when he sees it. Lee shares life lessons that were hard won and valuable to all.
Barry Blanchard, UIAGM/IFMGA Mountain Guide, author of The Calling - A Life Rocked by Mountains, winner of the Boardman-Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature
Much more than a book on mountaineering, Robert Charles Lee’s memoir delves deeply into the relationship between risk and reward, exploring the things we can control and those we can’t. His journey of self-discovery has resulted in a thoughtful meditation on the nature of adventure and what makes for a life well lived. Lee’s story will resonate with any readers who have experienced the incomparable satisfaction of challenging themselves while at the same time understanding the wisdom of respecting their limits.
Scott Zesch, author of “The Captured,” winner of the TCU Texas Book Award
This is a memoir like few others, in that the author is intent on beseeching his readers not to follow the example of his own life. The story he tells shows that this is very good advice indeed, but nevertheless his tale of improbable escapes from one looming disaster after another is both instructive and entertaining.
William Leiss, Queen’s University, author of: In the Chamber of Risks: Understanding Risk Controversies, Mad Cows and Mother’s Milk: The Perils of Poor Risk Communication, and Risk and Responsibility
In this engaging and very readable memoir, Robert Lee reminds us that life IS risk. Humans only continue to learn, grow and evolve through facing and conquering risks. Whether the risks are involuntary or voluntary, Lee aptly emphasizes that the key to survival, or even thriving, is how we choose to understand and manage those risks. While Lee’s recounting of his numerous climbing risk adventures reflects his personal approach to risk and risk management, his stories will resonate strongly with anyone who seeks the challenge and stimulation of being a ‘risk taker’. This book will ultimately make you examine more closely your own life in relation to the risks you choose or don’t choose to undertake.
Cindy Jardine, University of the Fraser Valley, world record skydiver
As autobiographies like Educated and The Glass Castle have taught us, growing up through hardship can be remarkably annealing. So too in this disarmingly honest memoir, where Lee relates his annealed response. He adeptly strings us along his extraordinary lifepath from childhood until retirement using an idiosyncratic lens: A meditation on risk serves as Lee’s through-line, one informed by his career in risk analysis. Sit and enjoy the windfall of a raconteur relaying how he and his fellow travelers have encountered and responded to risks. Many encounters, like his vivid recounts of ice and mountain climbing, are quite intense. We get a taste of life as a forester, psychedelic-explorer, musician, academic, blessed husband and alpinist. Some entrancing events, nicely infused with a humble `stock-taking’ of the cards that were dealt, and the choices made. An extraordinary story that resonates beyond risk.
Kevin Brand, University of Ottawa
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” wrote Helen Keller in her passageway focused book The Open Door. Metaphorical passageways hurtle us in and out of the risky exploits of Mr. Lee in Through Dangerous Doors. Climbing on a glacier or rappelling down a mountain, Lee shows us the thrill of daring adventure. But risk is not the goal, it is the price paid for adventure - and sometimes that price is too high. Lee helps us see that managing risk, sometimes with tools or technology and sometimes by knowing when to say no, is the key to continuing to be able to pass through new doors.
George Gray, George Washington University, co-author of Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You
(photo of Robert by Traci Ravenhawk)
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Banner art and photography by Robert Charles Lee, unless otherwise noted
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