In the spring of 1999, armed with little more than a description from a book and a map labeled “all elevations unknown,” Sam Lightner and his German rock-climbing buddy, Volker, found themselves deep in the jungles of Borneo on a mission to climb a mountain that was only rumored to exist. What little they knew about the mountain they had learned from the memoirs of Major Tom Harrisson, a British World War II soldier who in 1945 had been assigned the near-impossible mission of parachuting blindly into the thick Borneo rainforest–where the natives had a grisly habit of cutting off heads–to try to reclaim the island for the Allies.
A captivating, utterly original combination of travel adventure memoir and historical re-creation, All Elevations Unknown charts Lightner’s exhilarating and at times harrowing quest to ascend the mountain Batu Lawi in the face of leeches, vipers, and sweat bees, and to keep his team together in one of the earth’s most treacherous uncharted pockets. Along the way, he reconstructs a fascinating historical narrative that chronicles Tom Harrisson’s adventures there during the war and illuminates an astonishing piece of forgotten World War II history. Rife with suspense and vivid detail, the two intertwining tales open up the island of Borneo, its people, and its history in a powerful, unforgettable way, taking adventure writing to new heights.

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