I don't know if this is just my practical head taking over, but while I am awed and impressed by the scale of the mountains, I am even more taken with the scale and level of this logistical operation. Not only is Herzog a reputable and well established climber, but he also is the guiding force of this operation. He is so impressive to me as a leader! While reading I am overwhelmed by his role as the ultimate decision maker in this expedition.
First of all, I was struck by the oath that each member of this expedition must take:
"I swear upon my honor to obey the leader in everything regarding the Expedition in which he may command me" (pg 5).
Clearly, this oath is not taken or received lightly. I cannot imagine being in a situation where eight people swear to do what I say in this manner. Reading further and further on, I have come to understand the necessity of this leader, but starting the book this way set the dramatic tone from the start.
Secondly, I did not realize that in order to attempt to summit a mountain that rises over 8,000 meters, the members of the expedition first had to find it! I have never been to the Himalayas, but I was just surprised that a mountain that rises that high would have to first be located. This seems like a logistical nightmare! Not only did Herzog have to make the ultimate decision which mountain to climb, but first he had to find both of the peaks, and a potential way up each! Herzog becomes more and more impressive to me as he delegates and organized his team so efficiently on excursions to scope out the terrain. Almost more impressive than the way he delegates and organizes is the way that he interacts with the members of his team. While Herzog makes the ultimate decision to turn their full attention toward Annapurna, he makes sure that everyone on his expedition is content on this shift in attention before anything is finalized. He is the ultimate leader- clearly everyone on his team respects him enough to do what he says no matter what, but he will not make decisions without the input on everyone on his team, including the photographer and the doctor.
One great example of Herzog's logistical prowess comes in his letter to Tukucha, when he is telling the other members of his team that they are going to make a full out assault on the peak, and detailing instructions to each person. To Noyelle he gives detailed instructions about what gear he needs, listing about 25 different types of items with specific amounts of each.
"...2 gallons of gasoline, one 100 foot 8 mm. rope, two 50 foot 9 mm. ropes, 650 feet of 5 mm. line, 15 ice pitons,..." (pg 91).
How can one man keep all of this straight?
Herzog continues to impress me as the story progresses. I cannot help but admire and appreciate his superb leadership skills in the face of such a logistically heavy expedition.