Book Review: Brendan Leonard’s Sixty Meters to Anywhere

Have you ever asked yourself:

What would my life look like if I never started rock climbing?

Or better yet,

How have I changed because of it?

I’d be willing to bet that if you consider yourself an avid climber, the introduction to this sport and culture has fundamentally changed your life.

This begs the next question:

What was the catalyst for your discovery of rock climbing? And have you thanked the person or event that gave you this gift?

For Brendan Leonard—reknowned climbing writer and creator of the website Semi-Rad—that catalyst was a 60-meter rope gifted by his brother amidst a confused, chain-smoking, yet sober-from-alcohol era in his life.

At age 23, just two and a half years before he opened that gift, he found himself in an Iowa jail cell following his second DUI. Less than a decade later, Brendan would grow into a globetrotting writer with a new, albeit far healthier obsession: rock climbing.

In his latest book and personal memoir, Sixty Meters to Anywhere, Brendan captivatingly shares his own internal dialogue surrounding these and many other questions related to the profound impact that the experience of climbing can create in one’s life.

Take a look at the Sixty Meters to Anywhere trailer:

Through an at times painfully honest and self-exposing retelling of his journey from the barstool to the mountains, his story offers a resounding reminder of the power that lies behind the conscious act of confronting challenges and the compounding benefits these pursuits can provide.

Whether it be through his thoughtfully expressed fight for sobriety, poignant persistence to push himself through the type-two fun moments in climbing, or his process for coping with the rigors of relationships—Brendan’s memoir will certainly evoke a deep appreciation for your life as a climber; an ever-evolving experience that seems to elevate every component of life.

I am a climber and a writer and a dreamer, and already there isn’t time enough for all of it. There are mountains and sunsets, miles of trails and rivers, grizzly bears and marmots. Smiles and heartbreak, and love and loss and want. I want to take it all head-on, to go for that next handhold, even when I don’t know if I’m going to stick the move or take a wicked screamer down the face of the rock.

Without a doubt, that 60-meter rope granted Brendan a new identity and perhaps even a new “addiction,” however, this one opened the doors to a far healthier, enlivening, and influential existence.

Perhaps you’ve undergone a similarly profound change thanks to climbing, too. And frankly, isn’t that the main reason we’re all a little obsessed?

I think we can all agree that after you take that full-on baptismal dunk into the rock climbing world, you’re bestowed a bouquet of tremendous gifts that lift you. To name a few: a welcoming, motivating, and ever-growing community of friends, an endless arena for physical and mental challenge, an entrenchment of healthier habits and relationships, a greater connection and care for our environment … and of course, more fun and adventure than you ever knew possible.

If you aren’t afraid to love climbing a little more than you already do, I recommend you pick up a copy of this book.

Sixty Meters to Anywhere

buy now

… and I’m not the only one who thinks so:

“Brendan Leonard has earned his sensitivity to the human condition the hard way: by tearing himself apart until the pain could no longer be ignored. Brendan’s online satirical pieces have always been a surefire laugh for me, but Sixty Meters to Anywhere reveals the darker path from where those quips and jabs emanate. Brendan’s voice is at once crass, funny, heart-wrenching, and life-affirming. The heavy irony of Brendan’s journey from the gutter to the mountaintop is that his personal perception of the pitfalls of being human, and the possibility of redemption, would make him just the type of bartender that the lonely and lost sometimes need in the long night before the dawn.”

– Chris Kalous, The Enormocast

Sixty Meters to Anywhere takes us on a transformative personal journey, showing the power of climbing and the courage that lies within. Brendan writes with his usual blend of purpose, love and honesty, which reflect the person he’s become and the life that he lives.”

Kelly Cordes

“Brendan Leonard’s prose has the clarity of crisp granite ridges and flashes of light on summer snow, of moonlight sifting through pine branches and footfalls on silent trails–of all those times when, near the top of a mountain as the air spreads out and the world expands below, you feel as though the simple, yet mysterious act of ascent could actually change your life.”

– Katie Ives, Editor-in-Chief of Alpinist 


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