Arlene's Blog

Monday, October 31, 2005

Sunday October 30 The ferry to Bainbridge Island and the Outdoor Book Award

On a flat gray Seattle day, I walk aboard the ferry to Eagle Harbor bookstore on Bainbridge Island. An animated crowd of fifty jammed the bookstore and I received invitations to visit other islands and to return here again. I like commuting by ferry

The ferry had connectivity so I went on line and got the welcome news that Breaking Trail had won an Outdoor Book Awards:
Outdoor Book Award
History/Biography Category
Honorable Mention. Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life. By Arlene Blum. Scribner, New York. ISBN 0743258460
Arlene Blum is truly one of the pioneers of climbing, leading the way and clearing a path for women in expeditionary mountaineering. This is her story, told in her own words: her drive and determination in overcoming barriers; her dreams, achievements and disappointments in life; and the triumphs and tragedies amongst the high peaks of the world.

Afterwards I flew from Seattle to San Francisco. Great to be home with my beloved kitties Midnight and Micou for a couple days after three weeks on the road.
Books signed: 25
Amazon: #5,555 in Books

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Saturday October 29 A free day in Seattle

Today was a day off to relax and catch up on this blog, email, and make some decisions about future plans. Valerie LaBreche, a dear friend of Luree Miller, joined the Welti’s and me in a pleasant hike and told me the dramatic story of her life. Then, Cynthia and I joined some amazing women friends of hers in a special evening for women.
Books signed: two
#11,396 in Books

October 28 Friday Meeting Mike from Denali and Nancey from Bhrigupanth again

Our Bhrigupanth team at Base Camp. From left, standing: Nancey Goforth, Rekha Sharma, Barbara Drinkwater, Penny Brothers, Christy Tews. Front: Rajkumari Chand, Susan Coons, Piro Kramar, and me

The day began early with an interview on “Conscious Talk” radio show. The hosts were fantastic and it was a totally positive experience. After a break Diane picked up for an interview on Evergreen radio, a service for the blind, and then we signed books at several chain stores. My books are in the mountaineering section and I’m wondering if memoir might not be better.

After a quick sushi dinner, we head to the University of Seattle bookstore for my evening talk. Mike Bialos, who had helped with Grace’s rescue on Denali in 1970, attended along with his wife and I was able to publicly thank him for his help.

I was delighted that Nancey Goforth and her 14-year-old daughter Haydi came also and gave me a ride back, giving us a chance to catch up a little.

Books signed: forty
Amazon: #4,361 in Books

Thursday October 27 Meeting the noted artist and map maker Dee Molenaar at my Seattle Mountaineers talk

Dee Molenaar’s sketch map of Mt Everest

Since the Welti’s sold their house and are temporarily in a small apartment, I slept out on the porch which was somewhat colder and noisier than I’d anticipated. The next morning I was groggy when Diane Duthweiler picked me up to give me a ride to a news program that I thought was radio cable news. I was shocked to learn I was going to be on TV. Signing books at the local Band N, we met a manager at the bookstore with a Tibetan husband.

Back at the Welti’s, I’d fallen asleep again when Piro Kramar from our Annapurna expedition came by for a hike. Walking up Tiger Mountain, I was interested to learn about the good work Piro and Barbara Drinkwater, the physiologist who came with us to Bhrigupanth, do to rescue lost and abandoned animals on Vashon Island.

Then I rushed to get ready to speak for the Seattle Mountaineers I was thrilled that Dee Molenaar was in the audience. Dee is an artist and climber who nade many of the maps in Breaking Tail and also was on the famous 1952 expedition to K2. The crowd of 100 or so climbers was very enthusiastic and all the books were sold our once again.
Books signed: Forty
Amazon: #3,776 in Books Posted by Picasa

Wednesday October 26 Seattle Where have all the glaciers gone?

Two thousand years ago the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy said glaciers on the Mountains of the Moon, shown above, were the source of the Nile.

After an easy flight to Seattle, I had a peaceful afternoon with my friends the Welti’s and then spoke at Elliott Bay, a wonderful Seattle bookstore. The audience was small, about twenty people, but included two people with surprising information. An old boyfriend of Rekha Sharma, with whom I’d climbed Bhrigupanth, told me about some of their adventures together and also that Rekha had been the first woman to climb Nanda Devi, India’s highest peak.
When I showed the photo above of the Ruwenzori, the amazing glaciated peaks straddling the border of Uganda and Congo, a woman in the audience who’d climbed there two years ago, told us that these incredible glaciers on the equator are all gone now. If anyone doubts the reality of climate change, this is visible and tragic evidence that we must reduce our emissions of fossil fuels.
Books signed: Thirty
Amazon Today: #3,369 in BooksPosted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2005

Tuesday October 25 The LA Times and Powells

I awoke early to find the LA Times article on the web today. There were more than two thousand words about me and two photos, but only one mention of Breaking Trail.,1,6036381.story,2,264425.story

There was nothing about my November talk in Pasadena:

November 21 – Pasadena 7:00 pm, Vromans Book Store, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena,

After an enjoyable brief appearance on AM Northwest, the woman who escorts writers suggested that since I didn’t have any further publicity bookings, we spend an hour signing books in the various local bookstores. Signed books sell better and it’s good to meet the people who work in the bookstores. During a two hour long driving trip I signed only a dozen books. It sure didn’t feel like a good use of time but the signed books will be placed in a visible place in the stores I hope.

Then George Cummings and I had an enjoyable lunch with Annie and Orton Hall, John Hall’s parents. As usual, we spoke of their beloved son and felt again the sadness of his death in an avalanche at age 26.

In the evening, I spoke at Powells, a large and wonderful Portland bookstore.
Books signed 35
Amazon: #9,524 in Books

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Monday October 24 Which books will be on the front table?

Today I had an interesting long phone interview with Andrea Hoag, a reciewer for the Seattle PI, who has young children and is very interested in the issue of body burden of toxic chemicals in children. I took a walk with Ann Allen from Corvallis and then signed books at Barnes and Noble. It was a pleasant surprise that Brian and Sonia Hollander from Katmandu came to my talk.

Dan from Borders gave me more insights into the important question of getting books placed in the bookstores so that people notice them. Stores do have an area where employees can select books to display, but according to Dan, “It’s mostly a corporate decision, based on cooping money paid by the publisher, which books will be on front tables.”

Today fifty books signed

Amazon : #5,874 in Books

Sunday October 23 Reed College signing

With Kristi Hiatt and Karen Shedd in Portland Oregon

Kristi, Karen, Diana, and I enjoyed a hike through a Portland park with huge ferns and moss covered trees. Then we went to Reed for my talk there. I always love returning to Reed which continues to look bigger and better than ever. Angela Ayres showed me a happy photo of her son Freddy, his lovely wife from Peru, and new baby, all very happy.

After my well attended talk at Reed, an attractive young woman introduced herself as the daughter of Toby Wheeler from the Endless Winter and a sophomore at Reed, quite a surprise indeed. I was pleased and relieved when she said my characterization of her father was accurate.

I enjoyed dinner, along with family and political discussions, with my second cousin Jim Crane, his wife Karla Forsythe, and George Cummings with whom I’m staying. George, a most hospitable host, first taught John Hall to climb at Reed in 1962.

Books signed 30
Amazon Today: #6,909 in Books

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Saturday October 22 A hike and a signing in Fort Collins CO

I expected for a good turnout today as there a good article with many photos in the Fort Collins paper. ENTERTAINMENT06/510160301&SearchID=73223665008703

Cousin Steve and I drove to Horsetooth Rock State Park in Fort Collins Colorado where I met up with some of my best friends from the two years we lived there. (first and second grade for Annalise). We enjoyed a fun hike part way up to the Rock and a delicious pot luck lunch at Pat Hafford’s house.

Indeed there were lots of people at the talk and I stopped getting an extra security check when I flew from Denver to Portland.

Books signed: forty

Amazon rank #5,704 in Books

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Friday, October 21, Breaking Trail is invisible in Denver or How to get placement in the stores?

The Marketing Manager for Border’s in Portland where I’ll be speaking, phoned me this morning and told me I got a great interview in the Portland Oregonian Friday:

I asked his advice about the problem of my book being on a back shelf out of sight when I signed books at Borders and Barnes and Noble in Boulder. He suggested I appeal to my publisher about getting better placement in the stores in strong markets like Colorado and the Northwest. My publisher was sympathetic, but said it was up to the stores where a book was placed. The stores told me that which books got placed on the front tables and displays was primarily a corporate decision and that publishers paid coop money, I believe is the term, to get their books well displayed in the stores. What to do?

Denver is is an area where I expect many people would be interested in Breaking Trail. But with the book not visible in the stores and no publicity at all to date here, it’s hard to know how anyone would hear about the book and buy it. Sigh.

Michael Chessler, a mtg book dealer came by with a load of books for me to sign of which forty were BT. He then kindly gave me a ride to the wonderful American Mtg Center in Golden where Brenda Porter and I were taking a walk. Just as we were leaving, I received simultaneous calls from the LA Times and the Denver Post, both of whom are doing stories on Tuesday. So people in Denver will hear about the book after all. A promising ending to the day.

About eighty people came to my talk that eventing which seemed a small audience for a large auditorium, but it was an enthusiastic group . One woman said she flew in from Wisconsin to hear me speak and buy a book, which may be a record.

Books signed Sixty five
Amazon #6,817 in Books

'A Climbing Life' notes highs, lows

Friday, October 21, 2005


Arlene Blum's 1980 book "Annapurna: A Woman's Place," an account of how she led a team of mountain-climbing women on one of the most challenging peaks in the world, is a modern classic that has inspired countless climbers and recently was named one of the 100 best adventure books of all time by National Geographic Adventure.

After such a success, publishers and readers wanted another book. Blum wasn't ready. Her life story -- Reed College graduate, doctorate in chemistry from the University of California-Berkeley, pioneering leader of several all-women climbing teams -- was a natural for a memoir, but Blum resisted for years. It was only after she looked hard into her past and examined her motives for making the life choices she did that she was able to write "Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life" (Scribner, $27.50, 313 pages).

"It took me forever," Blum said from her home in Berkeley, Calif. "I wanted to understand why I chose to take the risks I did. I probably spent 95 percent of my time on the family sections of the book. I'd written articles for magazines about various climbs I'd done, and those sections came fairly easily, but I had to find out who I was by looking at where I came from."

Blum grew up in Chicago with her overprotective mother and grandparents and discovered mountaineering when her chemistry partner at Reed, John Hall, invited her to climb Mount Adams. It was love at first sight, even after a glissade in the dark tore the skin off her behind and forced her to sit on an inflatable toilet seat for weeks. Her senior thesis was collecting volcanic gases, which she did on Mount Hood with Fred Ayres, a Reed professor and an outstanding climber.

Hall died in an avalanche in 1971. He was one of many climbing friends who died over the years; each time, Blum was devastated but kept going back to the mountains.

"There was always a reason," she said. "I'd get invited to go on a climb, or something would come up. Part of it was wanting that sense of community and family that you feel when you're on a climbing team, and part of it was that I'm a strong optimist and always believed you could do it safely. Looking back, some of that might have been a little foolish."

Two women made it to the top of Annapurna on the trip Blum led, but two others died on the mountain. Is there any way that can be considered a success?

"No," she said. "The loss of two climbers is huge. It overshadows everything else. Everyone on the team felt awful about it, and still does."

Blum still gets around the mountains and climbed Mount Hood earlier this year "but nothing life-threatening," she said. "I'm through with that."

Arlene Blum reads from "Breaking Trail" at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Vollum Lecture Hall at Reed College, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd.; at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Borders Books & Music, 7227 S.W. Bridgeport Road, Tigard; and at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Powell's City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside St.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Thursday, October 20, Denver, ISET, Peak Oil, and Tattered Cover

Marcus and I enjoyed a very early walk in the hills where he asked me to join the board of the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition in Boulder. Marcus thought up the title for BreakingTrail and is one of my most creative friends. I am honored to work with him on ISET. Here’s the mission

First, we seek to improve understanding and elevate the level of dialogue as civil society attempts to respond to natural resource and environmental challenges in a rapidly changing global context.
, we seek to serve as a framework for equal collaboration between individuals and organizations in the North and South on programs that address the first mission.
There is more information at

Then I had a long interesting conversation with Roger Wendell at KGNU radio Morning Magazine. He invited me back to talk about environmental chemicals another time.

I signed books at Borders and Barnes &Noble in Boulder, CO where my book was not displayed. I wondered how anyone would know to find the book.

From there, we went to a signing at Wal-Mart in Commerce City where one customer came and I signed about 50 books for them to sell at other stores. I told them about my Annapurna book and they were interested. If they decide to carry it, it would definitely have been a worthwhile event.

After a second trip back to Boulder to retrieve my computer cord forgotten there earlier, I met up with my cousin Steve Vogler and we had a good dinner with my friends from Costa Rica Joan and Eric Gregerson at a brew pub owned by the mayor of Denver.

The mayor sounds fantastic. He helped set up high-level conference to discuss the impacts of a peak in world oil production that will be held in Denver, Colorado on November 10-11, 2005. The two-day forum is sponsored by the City and County of Denver and ASPO-USA.

Joan gave me the info below about Peak Oil, important to know about:
Nov 10-11 conference

There was a small but enthusiastic audience at the Tattered Cover that evening. (No PR at all in Denver. Sigh) I sighed about 30 books for the store.

Signed books: 90
Amazon rating #5,314 in Books

Wednesday, October 19, Boulder, An Annapurna Anniversary Climb?

This morning I took my laptop to breakfast and was informed that laptops were not allowed in the dining room at the posh Union Club in Chicago. I wonder how long that policy will last. Having spoken there, I'm invited to stay at the luxurious author's suite at the Union Club for free anytime I'm in Chicago.

After a straight forward flight to Denver, I was met by Tonya Riggs, a very energetic and enthusiastic young climber from Boulder, who had written me:

“I would like to recreate your climb and take a team of 13 women to Annapurna on your 30th anniversary. I have tried to wipe out the idea over and over.....many people are trying to talk me out of it and it keeps coming back into my mind. Trango, the company I work for owns Stonewear Designs...we are teaming up with the HERA foundation to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. This is part of my motive for doing something special for a very good cause. I believe your story is HUGE......and I believe the women are special. I would like to remind the world of what you did.

I do want to encourage Tonya to dream big and support the HERA foundation, but I think Annapurna I is just too dangerous.

Tonya enjoyed a quick hike in the hills and a conversation about the current truce in Nepal with my good friends Marcus and Elisabeth before dinner with Maurice Isserman who is writing a fantastic history of Himlayan mountaineering.

The Boulder bookstore was packed, very likely due to a great article in the local paper. Tonya told me of amazing paralels between her childhood and mine,1713,BDC_8836_4163623,00.html

No of books signed: 40 at the Boulder Bookstore

Today: #9,131 in Books

With Margie Rudman Cooper at the Evergreen Cemetary

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My Grandma's gravestone in the Evergreen Cemetary in Chicago

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My Grandpa's Gravestone in the Evergreen Cemetary

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tuesday October 18 Chicago

Today might well be the most demanding day of the tour. I wake up at 5:00 for a very early flight to Chicago. After waiting in a long line for curbside check in, I am told I had been selected for a special security check. I guess my changing flights after my cancelled flight in New York on Thursday will make a potential terrorist for the remainder of my tour. So I wait in another long line and have by fourth extreme check. It’s good to know our government is vigilant to keep us safe from terrorists.

I’ve started talking about my next project, trying to wake up Americans to the fact that the toxic flame retardants and other chemicals accumulating in their bodies pose more of a threat to their health and well-being than the terrorists in the skies. People seem interested and media folks are asking me to do another interview later about this alarming subject.

My talk today is at the very proper Union Club where formal attire is required. I’m met by my delightful second cousin Marjorie Cooper and her good friend Joanne Geifman who are here to help me recover and deal with my mother’s ashes. We finally persuade the moratorium to deliver the ashes to us here as its too far to drive to get them..

Then there is a lunch time talk and I’m delighted that several old friends, especially John and Nan Wood with whom I did the Ptarmigan Traverse in the 1968 , come to hear me in these elegant surroundings. Denny Cummings, who set up this talk invites me to stay at the author’s suite at the Union club anytime I am in Chicago, which seems a great fringe benefit. I’m not sure when that will be as we no longer have any family here.

Afterwards we drive to Evergreen cemetery. But where are my grandparents gravestones? Just as the cemetery is closing Joanne finds them. I clear away the foliage and then we recite the ancient Jewish prayers for my grandparents and my mother. I sprinkle some of her ashes in this peaceful and beautiful place. The rest I will bring to California where she always wanted to go and we will perhaps have a memorial. After I good cry I take the El back to the downtown.

On the El, I notice how segregated Chicago still seems and have a good conversation about this with a friendly young woman studying art. She is interested in joining which she’s never heard about before. I ask her to spread the word.

There’s barely time to check email and have a quick dinner before a fun two hour radio call in show.

Books signed: Forty
Amazon#7,386 in Books

A letter from Mt. Washington

Peter, our guide on the mountain, wrote me “ We've gotten almost 3 feet of solid precipitation (snow and sleet) and have had winds up to 136 miles per hour. Yes, it would have been great to have been there for that marvelous show of nature's fury, but indeed it would have been most inconvenient to have been stuck on the summit if you had previous commitments to be elsewhere.

In speaking with Observer Neil Lareau today, he noted that about 20 minutes after we left on Saturday, the temperature fell, winds picked up, and frozen precipitation started to fall. Timing is everything!

The weather - and the condition of the Mount Washington Auto Road-- is affecting our planning for our weekly shift change. Mount Washington State Park used a snow tractor on the upper part of the Road today, and suggested we should visualize January, rather than October, when thinking of current conditions.”

Monday, Oct 17 A Barking Dog in Boston

Today was relatively relaxed as I caught up with email and stayed with my good friend and Stanford roommate Mary Fedarko Roberts and her family. My two radio phone interviews were enlivened by Mary’s dog inevitably beginning to bark loudly during the interviews. Since I could not get close to the dog to stop him barking without the racket getting even louder, I tried to huddle under pillows to block the worst of the noise .

The evening talk was in Nadick’s Morse Institute Library near Wellesley. I was delighted that several old friends came to see me including Howard Simon, my dive partner and boy friend in the late 1960’s, Jim Huston, my Stanford friend who came on part of the the GHT, and Sonia Hicks from the Wellesley Chemistry Dept who gave me a leave of absence my first semester of teaching there so I could attempt Mt Everest.

I’m not looking forward to tomorrow with a very early flight to Chicago, a late two-hour-long radio call-in and a lecture and scattering some of my mothers ashes in between if all goes well.

Books signed: 20 (More would have sold but that was all the bookstore brought)

Amazon today: #5,874 in Books

Sunday, October 16, 2005

October 16 Breaking Trail book party and the Isenberg family in 1919

We had a perfect celebration for the publication of Breaking Trail today.

When we entered the Mt. Washington Observatory Museum we learned that the winds were 108 mph and there were white out conditions on top. We were VERY glad we hadn't spent the night and were warm and dry down in the valley.

I was delighted to see a huge cake with an edible cover of Breaking Trail on the top to celebrate the books publication. An enthusiasitc audience listened to my talk and I signed about 100 copies of Breaking Trail and 25 of Annapurna.

I'm thinking that the number of books signed each day might be a better quanititative number to keep track of than the Amazon rank which seems to flunctuate wildly. The time my Amazon rank was interesting was the Sunday Breaking Trail was reviewed in the NYTimes. It went from about 10,000 to about 1,000, reaching the lowest (and best) ranking about four on Sunday afternoon and then headed back up.

My second cousin Sue French just sent me the family photo below which we used to identify the people in the other photo.

The very tall man in the back right is my great grandfather Joseph Isenberg and my great grandmother Fannie Isenbeg is on the far right next to him. My Grandfathers brother Louis Isenberg is kneeling on the far left. This photo was probably taken in Rock Island Illinois in 1919.

Amazon Today: #6,909 in Books
Books signed 100 BT, 25 AAWP

Saturday, October 15, 2005

October 15, 2005 Mt Washington Climb and Book launch day

We choose today for the book launch as the anniversary of the date we reached the summit of Annapurna I in 1978, a happy day for the summit and a very sad day as Vera and Alison headed up on their own summit attempt. I remember descending the Dutch rib my myself full of joy that it seemed alsomost certain we would climb Annapurna and worry about Vera and Alison.

The rain is coming down more heavily than ever making me want to stay inside where it is warm and dry, but we are all meeting at the bottom of the trail in a few hours and then we will decide what to do next.


We indeed made it to the top of Mt. Washington in the pouring rain to celebrate the publication date of Breaking Trail. I carried my umbrella almost all the way and it was invigorating and fun. We were rewarded with a party and a turkey dinner at the observatory on top, not to mention a ride down the road as there are gale force winds up there now and staying the night wasn't a good idea.

The team was

Back from left: Mary Yeo, Peter Crane, our outstanding guide, Jonathan Blum, and Danny Gordon

Beth Krusi, me, Annie Tiberio, and Anne Messer

It was a great day and we are all joining the Mt Washington observatory

For more info on how to do join the observatory, go to their website or contact:

Virginia Moore

Amazon Today: #11,505 in Books

Friday, October 14, 2005

October 14 Friday at LL Beans

Today things went better, mostly. I was met last night by Mary Yeo who took me home to comofortable old New England home and fed me a very late but delicous supper.

Then I had three interviews in a row, two postponed from yesterday. During the TV interview I answered the questions aksed of me. Only afterwards did I realize that the book and my signing were not mentioned. Another lesson is "Alwasy mention the title of your book during an interview."

I had inadvertantly scheduled two interviews at ten am but the second interviewer read my blog from yesterday while waiting for me and was sympathetic to my having made this error.

Then I went to Beans, where we attracted some attention from the non-shopping spouses of shoppers mostly. Chatting with people was fun, but it was up to Mary to do the sales pitch which she did admirably.

After a drive in the rain we met Ann Messer and Danny Gordon for a fun dinner in Jackson. The rain grew heavier.

Ther forecast for tomorrow is for rain all day, with a front coming in at night bringinf 100mph winds and icing on top. It doesn't sound good for a book launch party on top on Saturday.

#4,553 in Books

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thursday October 13 The Flight from Hell

I left my hotel for the hour long flight to Portland Maine at 11:00 planning to do a TV interview at 3:30. On the way there I discovered my flight on US air was delayed so I rebooked on a Delta flight that would get me there by two thirty in good time for my interview. Having changed my flights, I was subject to the indignity of the ultimate maxim search which unnerved me so much I left my computer at the security check. Not a great idea. I got it back an hour later and decided no matter what happened from now on in, it was trivial compared to loosing my computer.

It was good I decided that. The Delta flight got delayed a couple times, but suddenly they rushed us all on a bus to the plane, stopped the bus, where we sat for an awful half hour with the motor running and told us the flight was cancelled.

Our only choice was a flight to Boston, followed by a bus to Portland. After an hour wait I recovered my luggage, took a long bus ride to the marine terminal to get the shuttle. Arrived in the pouring rain and had to carry my bags a very long way. Waited an hour for the shuttle, asked and learned the other passengers had already gone to Boston and taken the bus and they’d forgotten about the bus for us. Was selected again for the killer security check

I had a very rough flight to Boston, to discover my bags were still in NY. The bus came late and told us the vouchers Delta gave us were no good because Delta was in Bankruptcy. My hour flight stretched into a ten hour epic.

I’m writing this on a Trailways bus speeding from Boston to Portland and my spirits are not too bad. I just got a call they have my bag in Boston and was able to persuade them to deliver them by truck rather than on the flight via Cincinnati which was what they suggested. Annalise gave me an IPod with my favorite music on it and I must say at times like this, the IPod is a life saver.

I recently read that Bhutan looks at the net happiness of their people rather than the gross national production as a measure of the success of their country. The Ipod definitely increases the net happiness index even thouth the forecast for the book launch climb of Mt Washington is rain.

Amazon rank Today: #16,719 in Books

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

October 12 A Quiet Day in New York City

Today was meant to be the most quiet day of the trip, but the calm was broken by more more PR opportunities including an excerpt for the LA Times to come out next Tuesday, a TV interview in Portland Maine for tomorrow night announcing my Friday afternoon book signing at LLBean, and interview on a radio program called The Business Shrink.

I met with Lisa Drew my publisher, her assistant Sam Martin, and the Scribner publicist Lucy Kenyon who are happy with how the book is doing.

Annalise called to say she’s doing well and hoping to move to a lovely cabin by the river. She’s doing her own blog of her gap year at

I really enjoyed a tour of my favorite paper, the New York Times, and hope to show it to Annalise when we are both back here for her Netaid Global Action Award to be presented at Lincoln Center in New York City on November 9.

The weather had been cold and rainy and more of the same is forecast for the weekend, not auspicious for our October 15 book launch on the summit of Mt Washington. I hope to climb in spite of the rain.

Amazon rank for Breaking Trail #5,850 in Books

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Oct 11: The Isenberg clan and the Explorer's Club

My big story is I recently met Bob Feldman, a second cousin, who showed me this photo of my grandfathers family, the Isenberg clan, about 1917. Bob had no idea who the people were in the photo. He had been trying to identify them for years and concluded that he never would succeed. I told him I hoped to meet other cousins and identify these family members during my book trip. Bob was disbelieving and said that he thought we would never learn their identities .

Tuesday I met Sue French, another second cousin who brought along a different photo of many of the same people taken about three years later. And her photo had been identified by her elderly aunt Edith in 1982. Sue and I had a a very exciting afternoon of detective work and were able to identify most of the people in the photo above. For the first time, I know what my great grandparents and many other relatives look like. And I’m going to meet lots of other wonderful second cousins and learn more as I travel. I'm really delighted about this.

Then I spoke at the Explorers Club in New York to a very enthusiastic audience, half women. The Club has come a long way from the days when women were not allowed to join.

Amazon rank is #6,807 in Books

New York

Last night I arrived in New York after along flight on American (which actually had more leg room than United fortunately as I was in a middle seat.) Please come to my Explorer's Club talk tonight if you are near New York City. It's at seven at 46 E 70th Street, with a reception at six.

I was met and am staying with my dear friend Stacey Miller, the daughter of Luree Miller of whom I wrote in the Acknowledgements to Breaking Trail:

"My loving writing mentor, Luree Miller, first suggested the idea for this book. Over the decades I struggled to write it, I wasn’t consistently grateful to her for starting me on the project, but certainly am now that it’s approaching completion. I wish I could show it to her, but Luree died in 1996."

It was great to share the book with Stacey and remember Luree together. Luree wrote many wonderful books inlcuding "On Top of the World: Five Women Explorer's in Tibet" which is published by the Seattle Mountaineers.

On Top of the World: Five Women Explorers in Tibet (Paperback)
by Luree Miller "It was the Himalayas that lured Nina into her rash venture..." (more)
CAPs: Alexandra David-Neel, Isabella Bird Bishop, Annie Taylor, Fanny Bullock Workman, Central Asia (more)

My Amazon number isn't so good today


Today: #9,120 in Books
Yesterday: #8,925 in Books

But there is a good new review on Amazon
A fascinating account, October 11, 2005
Reviewer:Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) - See all my reviews
Mountain climbing drama comes to life in mountaineer, biochemist, and author Arlene Blum's Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life. Blum has written about climbing before in Annapurna: A Woman's Place: her latest is the story of how she got to be a climber, moving from an overprotected Chicago childhood to reach some of the highest mountains on Earth. Each chapter starts with a memory from her early life, which serves as a starting point to trace an element which contributed to her becoming a climber. A fascinating account.

Here's my schedule in New York, FYI.

Tuesday, October 11

PULSE. XMs newest morning show. Arlene will be joining us at our NY studios located at 20 West 60th Street NY, NY 10023. 10:30 am.

Meet my cousin for lunch "Sue French"
Meet Jean Taylor

Be at the Explorer’s club at 5:30

6: 00 p.m Reception Explorers Club 46 E 70th Street

7:00 slide lecture and signing

Tuesday & Wednesday staying at Millennium
Hotel Millennium Cothorne Hotels Millennium Broadway Hot

Wed. 7:00 am Central Park walk

11:00 am Scribner to meet the wonderful people who have worked on the book with me Lisa, Sam, Lucy, Molly

Friday, October 07, 2005

My Book Tour

I am starting off on a long book tour tomrrow morning. Right now I'm sitting on the roof of my house on a warm autumn evening watching the twinkling lights of San Francisco and listening to the crickets. It is a moment of calm in a whirl of activity and I'm savoring it. Micou, my big gray cat, stopped eating. Maybe something is wrong or maybe he senses my tension. Tomorrow I'll try to take him to the vet before I leave at ten from my flight to New York.

Annalise has written from Thailand where she is having an amazing time setting up Teaching English as a Foreign Language programs in several small villages impacted by the tsunami.

I'll try to write at least a couple sentances every day of my tour and see how my the sales of my memoir benefits from all the speaking I'll be doing. Being a scientist, I am analytical so here's a somewhat peculiar number to follow, the Amazon ranking.

Today as I depart it is #3,925 in Books