Arlene's Blog

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

November 30 On the Way to Thailand

The last few days have been very busy getting ready to meet Annalise in Thailand. Yesterday I made a one day trip to San Diego to give a lecture at the Del Mar library and spend time with Barbara Gottfried, who was my best friend in high school. It was all fun but a little too much with leaving today and not being completely better. Annalise and I will be home on Dec 23

And meanwhile here's my publicity schedule for the next few months:


Thursday, January 5th at 7:00 p.m.
A Great Good Place for Books 6120 LaSalle Ave Oakland CA 94611

Wednesday January 11 7:00 pm.
A Clean Well-lighted Place for Books

Thursday January 12 7:00 pm.
Signing and lecture at Sports Basement in the Presidio

Thursday January 19, 2006 at 6:30 p.m
San Francisco Jewish Community Center "Breaking New Trails for Women."
With Irma Herrera, executive director of the Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) on the topic,


January 28, 2006

AMC Annual Meeting keynote

SALT LAKE CITY January 30 7:00 pm

Outdoor Retailers Women’s Association Panel

Jan 31

Salt Lake City REI talk 7:00 pm

Feb 2

Sandy Utah REI talk 7:00 pm

San Francisco

Feb 7 or 8

Talk for USF Center for the Pacific Rim, 2130 Fulton Street

February 16, 2006 - Palo Alto
Wallace Stegner Lecture
Contact: Anne Sharman, Director of Communications, Peninsula Open Space Trust
Mountain View Center
for the Performing Arts located at 500 Castro Street

Capitola Book Café

February 23
7:00 pm REI Store, 400 El Paseo de Saratoga

Black Oak Books has requested at talk in February or March

Feb 28

Book Party in Aspen, CO ??

March – Pasadena
Reschedule 7:00 pm Vromans Book Store 695 E. Colorado Blvd Pasadena, CA 91101

March 25, Saturday – UK – TBKFestival of Mountaineering Literature at the University of Leeds, Bretton Hall Campus, UK

May 2006 Professional Business Women of California?


May 27 to 29
Telluride Mtn Film Festival

The Amazon rating went to 2000 on Sunday when a good review came out in the SF Chronicle.

Today I singed aobut 40 books for when I'm gone
BT is #5,323 in Books


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gifts for our family, friends, and planet

Since this is the biggest shopping weekend of the year, I’d like to suggest alternatives gifts that conserve our natural resourses.

We in Western countries make up 20% of the world population, but we consume 80% of the earth’s resources. The average American consumes 30 times more than an Indian.Consider sometimes donating to a favorite charity in a friend’s name rather giving objects that use up our planet's natural resources. Some ideas for holiday gifts that are easier on the environment follow:
GIVE A GIFT OF YOUR TIME: Make a coupon for a gift of your time for such things babysitting, helping to paint a room at their house, shoveling snow, garden work in the spring, making a meal, food shopping, or teaching a skill. You show you care about your friends and don’t burden them with things they might not want or need (their tenth sweater, jacket, or small electronic device).
GIVE AN INTANGIBLE GIFT Give dancing lessons, tickets to the theater, invite friends to a movie or play with you, or give a certificate for a massage. Your gift won’t end up in a landfill.
MAKE SOMETHING: Take a course to learn to paint pictures, throw pots, knit scarves, or make other items that you can give as gifts.
BUY LESS Consider exchanging fewer presents Do you and your friends actually need more things? People may be surprised at this suggestion, but you can explain that the planet needs people to stop buying things they don’t need that use up our forests, water, and other natural resources. Sales Rank: #20,452 in Books

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Happy Thanksgiving,

I'm working on my e-newletter and in case you don't get it, my message for Thanksgiving begins with this opportunity to help the survivors of the Pakistan earthguake.
Please email me if you'd like to get on my e-list for occassional messages.

Heavy snowfalls have begun in the mountains of Pakistan where Himalayan villagers need food, shelter, and clothing to survive the winter. While the tsunami was well funded in terms of relief; this disaster is seriously under-funded. Here are two organizations on the ground in the Pakistan Himalaya that will get donations directly to the high mountain people who desperately need them:

Abdul Sattar Edhi’s Foundation was among the first to reach the earthquake- affected areas and is trusted for its integrity and effectiveness in a country rife with corruption. Donations can be made through (click on the earthquake donations link and follow it to donate to the Edhi Foundation.)

Edhi, who has been compared to Mother Teresa, won the Balzan Foundation's "special prize for humanity, peace and brotherhood among peoples":
The Edhi Foundation website is

Another effective way to help is through Greg Mortensen and the Central Asia Institute who do outstanding educational and humanitarian work in the mountains of Pakistan. For updates on their work and how to donate go to:

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Wednesday Nov 23 Annalise on Channel One

Annalise sent me the URL for an interview with her and the other NetAid award winners on Channel one, a teen channel. To see it , go to
Click on Nov 23 Pop quiz::Netaid awards::One Step Minute
The section with Annalise and her friend Kat is about 2/3's of the way through the program.
Today I saw the doctor who put me on antibiotics and had an interview with Alaska NPR. Only after the interview was over with no mention of my book or website did I realize I need to think in advance about what should be in interview and make sure it gets mentioned.
This is another perfect warm sunny california day. Can it be climate change?
Books signed: 1
Amazon 7,569

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tuesday November 22 A Mountaineer with a Message

After doing my Ashoka foundation talk where I focused more on the environmental, social,l and political aspects of my travels, I realized this is a much more interesting story for me and the audience also. Much of this material is in the footnotes to BT, so I m can find this part easily.
I was talking with my good friend Carolyn Said about media last night and she suggested phoning West coast Live. I did and suggested what I think is a more interesting take on the book, especially for programs with an interest in politics. And West Coast Live was interested.

A Mountain Climber with a Message
AB has led trekking and climbing expeditions to the mountains around the world for decades. Now she wants to educate people to better understand the environmental, social, and political issues in the mountainous countries where she had climbed and explored.

Maybe this would be a better angle to get more PR, more in line with the tiems and my current interests.

Books signed 20 to get ready for being gone for three weeks
Amazon 6,240
For some unaccountable reason, it seems to be doing better.

Nov 21 At home

I had a long talk with my book agent Felicia with the conclusion that I still need to keep doing book PR. I thought the silver lining of the fact that I had so little publicity during my book tour was that I had lots of untapped media possibilities for the paperback but Felicia said there wouldn’t be a paperback unless the hard cover did better. And even if there were, the bookstores wouldn’t want to carry it unless they had sold appreciable hard covers.
To date Breaking Trail has sent about 12K copies to the stores, but they need to sell those books by Christmas or they could well send them back to the publisher. This is not enough copies to warrant their printing a paperback version.
Since Annapurna sold 100K copies, there are likely many people out there who would be interested if they knew about the book, but I don't know how to reach them. Felicia said my editor at Scribner was happy with how the book was doing, although it wasn't well enough for a paperback.
After doing talks and media several times a day for most of the last months, I have succumbed to a bad cold and laryngitis. I have eight days at home to get better before heading for San Diego for my last book event of the year and then to Thailand and Burma.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sunday Nov 20 Party in Marin

Going to LA with my cold seems not a good idea, so I reluctantly cancel my lecture at Vroman’s bookstore in Pasadena. I did manage to give my talk at the book party in Marin this afternoon. Bill Joost did a great job of organizing the party on a beautiful afternoon. I was especially delighted that Dave Graber, who was part of the Endless Winter in 1972, and his family made a surprise visit. Since I could barely speak, I shortened my talk, and didn’t mention Dave in the talk. I wished I’d seem Dave in the audience with his family and talked more about his contribution to the Endless Winter in the trip.

Books signed 15
Amazon #5,790 in Books

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Saturday Party in Palo Alto

After a day of unpacking, packing, putting gear away, trying to get my business and office stuff together, shopping for food and garden things, making business cards, and a short wak with Joan, I headed for Paula Stout’s house for a traditional Sherpa mean and book party. Thanks to Heidi and Sandra for driving me and helping out in so many ways. Paula had done an amazing job of assembling a large group of climbers, Buddhists, and other supportive folks, one of the most enthusiastic audiences to whom I ever spoke. She also had a powerful microphone, quite necessary as I now have a cough and chest cold and my voice is going. Sigh.
Books signed 65
Amazon #20,650 in Books

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Friday Nov 18 Media in San Francisco

My first day at home, I awoke with a bad sore throat feeling like I’d been run over by a truck, and stumbled about the house trying to put my life and the house back in order, birdseed in the feeder, catfood, litter, clean the water bowls, laundry, pack for today. All the while, I was drinking hot ginger lemon tea and hoping my voice could make it through the next few days of interviews and lectures.
First was a crisp and informative phone interview with Peter for National Geographic World Talk radio. I rushed to shower, dress, and choke down some food when Naomi Epel arrived to drive me to my KQED interview. The host, Josh Kornbluth, is the brilliant actor we heard at Berkeley Rep. Full of creativity and enthusiasm, he found details of my book no one had noticed before. Sarah Gerhardt, the other woman on the program was a world-class surfer, with a PhD in PChem, and a very challenging childhood. Her story aligned with my theory that women who choose life threatening endeavors often have had unusually difficult childhoods.
Elisabeth Pepin, the producer made a film about Sarah called One Winter Story and wrote "Sarah is the first woman in the world to do tow in surfing and to surf Mavericks. You can read more about her on our film website at:"
Then Naomi drove me around to sign books at SF bookstores which was fun. My throat was hurting as we made our way to Sinbads by the water to give an evening talk to the Explorer’s Club, an adventurous group including many women. I told the story of the founding of the Society of Women Geographers, back in the days when women couldn’t belong to the Explorers Club. Lee, the local Chair, graciously urged me to join.
Books signed: 65
Amazon ranking
Friday #9,823 in Books

Friday, November 18, 2005

Thursday November 17 Home at Last

Annalise called early to discuss the details of our trip to Thailand and then I got a happy call that my camera was found at Patti’s apt in NYC. Yeah!!
I visited Hannah at the Geographic, who lived in Pakistan and is very concerned about the plight of the victims of the earthquakes as winter approaches. We discussed the possibility of suggesting to MoveOn that they send out an appeal to donate to an outstanding nonprofit she knows in the region. Then I visited Rebecca who heads the Expeditions Committee to discuss the possibility of the Geographic supporting my retracing the GHT in a year of so. And finally I spent and enjoyable half hour chatting with Kojo Nmandi, a great host on NPR in DC. Miraculously I caught an earlier flight than planned and am heading home. I’m ready.

Books signed six
Today: #7,974 in Books

At Horace Mann School in DC

Wednesday at the National Geographic

The day began with a circuitous drive to Horace Mann School for presentation to 60 third to sixth graders. The children had been well prepared by their teachers and knew an amazing amount about about mountains and geography. And they asked me some of the best questions ever. The Q and A went on a long time and was totally fun. After grabbing some sushi for lunch, we headed to Silver Springs MD and Bill Thompson’s Eye on Books, a nationally syndicated radio program.

Rain was sheeting down by the time I walked to Geographic for my talk. It had sold out weeks ago and was really fun in a great space. Based on suggestions from the Ashoka folks, I included a lot more about social and scientific issues in my talk at the Geographic and it was very well received. Indeed Greg, who heads the lecture series invited me to come back, saying it was refreshing to have speaker who had broader interests than just climbing peaks. From now on, I'll include more about social issues in all my talks, which I do think is more interesting and important.
Books signed: 50

#8,567 in Books

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Tuesday in DC

After a 6:00 am flight from Portland Maine to DC, I checked into the Rouge Hotel, very interesting, comfortable, and red. After lunch, I spoke at the Ashoka Foundation, which does amazing work in supporting and funding outstanding social entrepreneurs all over the world. They suggested ideas for my proposed new work informing people about the hazards of flame retardant and other halogenated hydrocarbon chemicals. Then, I had a relaxed dinner with friends of Luree Miller from the Society of Women Geographers. I so wish Luree were here to share my book and adventures.
Books signed 8
Amazon #8,567 in Books

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Monday in Maine

Today I had a quiet day working on Tibet and Sikkim itineraries in the comfortable Maine farmhouse of my trekking friends Kari and Bob Suva. In the evening I spoke to students and community at St Joseph’s College, located in a beautiful location on the shores of Sebago Lake, Maine's second largest lake.

Books sold 15 BT and 5 AAWP
Monday : #9,517 in Books

Monday, November 14, 2005

Beans and Bowdoin on Sunday in Maine

It was quieter today at Beans, but they did have a microphone this time, which I have now learned is essential. In the evening I spoke to an enthusiastic group from the Bowdoin College outing club and am spending the night at the old Maine farmhouse home of Kari and Bob Suva, friends who trekked with me twenty years ago.
Books signed fifty
#6,909 in Books
(I am wondering if there was some media today I don’t know about that led to the books being sold. Maybe it was the Saturday radio program in NYC.)

November 12 Saturday at LLBeans

Today I enjoyed a beautiful flight all along the coast from New York to Maine and an interesting busy afternoon of signing books at LL Bean. I’m enjoying Mary Yeo’s hospitality once again The only problem is there was no microphone when I spoke to forty or so people and my throat is hurting. A worry when I’ll be doing talks and media every day for the next ten days.

Books signed twenty
#15,485 in Books

The five winnders of the Net Aid Global Action Award

 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 12, 2005

November 7 to 11 Annalise's Global Action Award in New York

For the last week, I've been in New York with Annalise while she received her Netaid Global Action Award. You can read about it and see photos at

It's been great spending time with her again, riding the Merry Go Round in Central Park, seeing old friends, and learning about global philanthropy. Even though I've not done much book signing, speaking or media, it's been busier than ever and since this is a blog aobut my book tour, I'll just summarize these past days.

I was up to catch the 5:00 am airport bus to Calgary to get flights to Toronto and New York. Air Canada is much more comfortable, friendly and spacious than the US airlines. After traffic delays landing, I headed toward the hotel where Annalise had bought half price tickets to the Phantom of the Opera. We both were so exhausted we slept through much of the performance.

After a radio interview for Saturday Morning Show with Ed Walsh on WOR Radio and a leisurely brunch where Annalise shared with me her visions of how to get more young people in the US involved in helping the world, we had a wonderful romp through Central Park, followed by a memorable tour of the New York Times. We met the other Net Aid award winners, a fantastic group of young people.

We began our day with another interesting walk in Central Park with Arthur and his daughter and then Annalise had a series of media interviews. The ceremony was held in the amazing Jazz room at Lincoln Center with huge windows framing a dramatic view of Manhattan. The food and music were great and I knew the room was full of amazing people. Annalise looked beautiful and I’m very proud of her for her care for the world.

After another walk in the park, we invited the award winners and their parents and friends to lunch in a Chinese restaurant. We sat around a round table, got to know each other better, and shared experiences.

Annalise had a stomach ache and rested at my friend Patti Kemerer’s lovely Park Avenue apartment while I got our visas at the Burmese Consulate nearby. Patti then had a wonderful book party for me where I met spoke about Breaking Trail to a group of her interesting friends. Most memorable was Patti’s amazing friend Ruth G, who said between me and Annalise at dinner and shared viivid accounts of of hearing Hitler speak in Germany, meeting Virginia Wolf several times, and her work with Iccles, FDR's Secretary of the Interior. Ruth is still writing books at age 94.
Books signed: forty
#13,886 in Books

Happily back in New Rochelle with our dear friends Scott and Stacy Miller, we went back to Manhattan for the day so Annalise could go to a conference and talk with the President of Netaid about her ideas for getting more American teens to care about the world (I seem to have lost my camera with my photos for this blog. So sad.)
Friday: #17,462 in Books

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sunday Nov 6 The end of the Banff Mountain Book festival

During another day of good conversation, walks, and films, I gave my thanks to the dream team who put on this Festival. Every detail was perfect. I made many new friends and begin to feel a bit on an insider rather than an outsider, a welcome change.At the final awards, I was delighted that my appreciation of the program was mentioned on stage during the program.

Books signed 10
#7,732 in Books

Saturday Nov 5 The 1957 Broad Peak Expedition Controversy

At breakfast I sat down next to Qader Saeed an articulate ex-Pakistani army officer who, at age 24 had been the liaison officer for Broad Peak trip, Fritz Wintersteller, who made the first ascent of Broad Peak, the sons of Marcus Schmuck, who was the expedition leader and Fritz’s partner on the climb, and Richard Sale who had written a book and presented a talk yesterday about the climb. They told me in great detail their interesting and well documented story about that climb which is recounted on their website at which says
The ascent of Broad Peak, the world's twelfth highest mountain in 1957 was one of the most important climbs in the history of climbing on the great peaks. A team of four Austrians, carrying their own equipment and dispensing with bottled oxygen, took the climbing ideas of the European Alps to the Himalayas / Karakoram, an advance in tactics which laid the foundation for many of the great ascents which followed. As well as being a landmark, the expedition also resulted in the death of Hermann Buhl, at the time the most famous climber in the world.
They are all embroiled in a bitter controversy with Kurt Diemberger, another member of the expedition, who has a different account of the climb.

I passed on their contact information to Maurice Isserman for his history of Himalayan Mountaineering, with the hope that his writing an unbiased and historically accurate account might calm their conflict with Kurt Diemberger. Apparently Diemberger, in his accounts, downplays the fact that Schmuck and Wintersteller, organized the trip, led to the summit of Broad Peak, and that he climbed Chogolisa without permission. When Sale wanted to include this information in a previous book, Diemberger apparently had Sale’s book changed without his permission. This led to a lot of bad feeling and Sale researching and writing an entire book about the trip.
Then I had another books signing and took part in a panel
Hot Issues Noon-Hour Seminar - Near Misses Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Arlene Blum, Timmy O’Neill, Geoff Powter, and Steve Housediscussing the close calls that are a part of adventure, and what they’ve learned fromtheir experiences. This will be filmed for TVI ended up taking two quick walks partway up a local hill, one with Jennifer Lowe Anker, who is writing a memoir, and a second with a young woman working on an Imax film about glaciers and climate change. In both cases I tried to offer helpful advice for their projects.

20 books signed
Amazon about 10,000

Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday Nov 4 Sparks flew during the panel

Hunter and Fanny Bullock Workman who pioneered new routes in the Karakoum

The darned TV alarm went off at 6:00 am for the second day in a row. I’ve got to unplug the TV. I felt some anxiety about the early morning three person panel on writing memoir which included David Roberts who wrote the critical and inaccurate Outside article about women climbers.
9:00 10:10 Book Festival Seminar V Writing a Memoir — Arlene Blum, Andy Cave and David Roberts
I wandered into breakfast, sat down at a random table, and saw to my horror Roberts was sitting across from me. Looking down intently at my plate, I tried to gobble my breakfast and flee, but people kept stopping by to congratulate me on my talk last night, and finally Roberts left, so I could relax and finished my breakfast.

Then on to the panel on writing the memoir. All went smoothly at first and indeed Bill Buxton, the moderator, made an interesting comparison between a dramatic fall I took on the North side of Mt Hood and an almost identical one Roberts took on an Alaskan peak. I was worried about being criticized as a woman out-stepping her ability, but Roberts had no such concerns

Based on this comparison Charlie Houston asked me:
Women like Miraim Underhill, Fannie Workman, Barbara Washburn, and Annie Peck did not experience sexism. Why do you think you did when they didnt?
(Charlie later told me he had long faulted me for my extreme paranoia on the subject of sexism).
I admire Charlie and wanted to explain the difference to him as best I could. I told him that women who were married to people in the establishment did not tend to experience sexism, but Annie Peck certain did. As it turned out, Fannie wrote about experiencing severe discrimination in "in the lofty circles".
I told the story of how when I was researching Annapurna I discovered that all the women who had attempt 8000 meter peaks before me had the same name in a listing of mountaineers: “And his wife.”
Then I found myself repeating the quote from Grant Barnes that anti-Semitism was also a component of my ill-repute of the AAC . Charlie denied it vehemently. David Roberts started a long tirade about their being no anti-Semitisim in the club. I was able to stop him by saying this was not appropriate for the panel and we could discuss it further later.

Then Bill asked David about his Outside article on the failure of womens climbing. David said it was just the title the magazine put on his thoughtful and nuanced story. I could not contain myself and said that to the contrary, the title did reflect his story which inaccurately blamed me for Vera and Alison's deaths. I said his story was poorly researched, hurtful, and I had been avoiding him for twenty years. His only response was to say that that wasn’t true.

To my relief, Chick Scott, one of the festival founders, asked what our favorite climbing book was. Mine has long been Lionel Terray's biography. David Roberts answered first citing the same book as his favorite. I wanted to remind him that a few years earlier he had written his favorite climbing book was Maurice Herzog's Annapurna, that was until he wrote his hurtful expose on Herzog.

I was so sorry that I had used the Grant Barnes quote and anti-Semitism had come up, but I was sincerely trying to explain to Charlie what I had learned about the antagonism the AAC had exhibited towards me. And I also regretted my sharp words with Roberts.
In the wrap I said I was sorry these unfortunate topics had been included. However for the rest of the day, dozens people came up to me saying that it was very important to say what I had said and that I had handled a difficult situation very well.
I later explained to Charlie Houston that I knew he wasnt sexist or anti-Semitic but these things did exit in the AAC. He told me I had long seemed paranoid about women's opportunities to climb. I tried to explain that it indeed wasn’t paranoia and thing he might have heard with me.

As luck would have it that night for the opening of the film festival there were assigned seats and mine was next to Dave Roberts. I said we needed to have the outside article he wrote in front of us before we continued our conversation. He again began a rant about there being no anti-Semitism in the club. We exchanged more adversarial words about this subject and I didn't return after the intermission.

Then I had a fun conversation with Annalise who is overnighting in luxury with our cousins in LA on her way from Thailand to receiving her NetAid Global action award at Lincoln center in NY next week.

15 books signed
Today: #14,999 in Books Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Thursday November 3 The Banff Mountain Book Awards

Today, I had a couple of media interviews and met lots of interesting people. I especially enjoyed a walk around town with Bill Buxton, the moderator for my panel tomorrow on writing a memoir.
At a literary lunch, I began to understand more about David Roberts, who wrote the inaccurate and hurtful Outside article on the Failure of Women's Climbing, when he read an excerpt from his memoir about finally looking up the family of his dead climbing partner decades later after the tragic accident. He was focused on his own experience and feelings with little apparent regard for the emotions of the family members that he was finally contacting after 39 years.

I spoke tonight to about 600 people tonight after the the Banff Mountain Book awards were announced. I was thrilled that the grand prize winner was Being Caribou, a book I'd hoped would win and thus become better known. It's a remarkable story dramatizing the importance of preserving the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.

Then I signed books for over an hour.
40 books signed
Amazon #13,820 in Books

Wed Nov 2 BART to the airport

My two days at home were a blur of unpacking, laundry, cleaning, phone interviews, photo requests, packing, and several more bookings as the next weeks get busier.
I decided to try BART to the airport which seemed an easy way compared to driving in a car or taxi during rush hour. In spite of two changes of train with my 50 pound of carry on luggage, all was well until I arrived at the airport. After a small epic taking the little train to Air Canada I discovered my flight actually left from United which was a three minute walk from where I’d started a half an hour ago, so I jogged back with all my baggage. And then had some problems persuading the security agent to let me on with my mammouth carryon. I was drenched in sweat and trembling with exhaustion by the time I stumbled on my flight.
But the flight was empty, comfortable and arrived half hour early so I will mange to catch the 10:30 bus to Banff which will get me there by 12:30. the next one is from 12:00 to 2:00, an unpleasant possibility. There’s snow on the ground here and people are relaxed and down-to- earth here. A different energy from Berkeley.


I’m in my luxurious room at the Banff conference center looking out at the dark snowy landscape thinking that this is a great place to relax and for a few days rejoice at last that Breaking Trail is finished and born into the world..

No books signed

Amazon #12,187 in Books