Author(s): Dr Ross Cullen
Why do people climb mountains, scramble up rocky crags, use iceaxes and crampons to ascend steep ice? Are climbers risk loving men or women, impervious to cold and hardship, and somewhat different to ordinary people? Ross Cullen argues in Slice of Heaven that he and his climbing companions are, like most climbers, everyday people who pursue careers, support families and contribute to their communities. They are also drawn to make ascents of crags, chasms, mountains, even Himalayan peaks. Micro-adventure is a modern name for outdoor activities that many people, like the author, fit in around jobs, families and community engagement. This engaging memoir relates ascents made during a thirty four year period on all seven continents. It traverses a spectrum of climbing genres - including rock climbing, mountaineering, scrambling and expedition climbing. It examines the risks and consequences of misadventure, and confronts the often-sordid nature of expedition climbing. Most mountaineering literature focuses on action on the mountain or crag. Few climbing books place the climbing within the context of a climber's life. This book is part of a new genre of climbing literature focusing on the challenge, excitement, joy and friendship that climbing brings to everyday life. The lively text, wry humour and thoughtful comment provides insight into why, how and where ordinary people aspire to climb. Slice of heaven is well illustrated with photographs and maps and documents an important slice of New Zealand's modern climbing history.
An occasional climber but full time academic, Ross Cullen was a late starter at many things in life. Surprisingly, before reaching age 65, he quit full time work in 2012 and moved from New Zealand to live in Oslo, Norway. He soon began writing about climbs, companions and customs he had observed in various countries visited during 30 plus years. Ross is a fortunate person; he has scrambled up at least one peak on seven continents. He first scaled a mountain in 1976 at age 27. During the next 39 years he dashed to mountains and crags at weekends and during holidays, sampled an expedition or two, completed some first ascents and contributed a bit to to climbing administration. Ross was Professor of Resource Economics at Lincoln University, New Zealand and New Zealand Alpine Club President 1991-93. He edited two editions of the NZAC's Barron Saddle - Mount Brewster guidebook. At age 66, ambition undiminished, desire for ascents, for wild landscapes and for solitude still draws him to the mountains.