Audio Book (sort of…)

Professional audiobook narrators need not worry. I’m no threat. But during this coronavirus pandemic, when many climbers seem challenged by the social distancing directive (surprisingly enough to me—hell, I damn near invented social distancing), I figured this bizarre time makes a good time for storytime: I’m reading my book, The Tower, cover to cover, and releasing the readings for free, daily, no ads and no bullshit. Much gratitude to Patagonia Books for their support, and huge thanks to my long-suffering friend Jason Albert, who heroically endured as my first regular climbing partner back in my “Sketchy Kelly” days in Missoula. I was such a pain in the ass. Jason’s a great writer and an audio pro, and he walked me through the basics, tweaked the levels, and fixed my bigger mistakes. It would have been inhumane, however, to subject him to a full edit of these recordings, and so the many glitches are all mine.

We as climbers tend to be fortunate with the lives we lead. If you are able, please consider helping somebody in need during this crisis, whether it’s a friend, neighbor, your local food bank or another organization.

Episodes should be streamable and downloadable (unless I botch the tech), and will be posted below daily. They average 25 to 30 minutes each, but range from 20 to 50 minutes. Apologies for the hiccups, the sips from my marg, and the wind outside my window. And my pronunciations of foreign words are atrocious. Have mercy. You get what you pay for. I had to put on my blinders at times while recording, and let some things go, or I’d drive myself nuts. I’ve consolidated the 35 chapters (plus Epilogue and Postscript) into 16 readings, prefaced by a short intro. Enjoy, and stay healthy.

An off the Couch Audio Book (1)

Language: Some folks have asked if it’s kid-friendly for language. Well, might depend on your kids, but it’s probably not. I read the book as I wrote it, uncensored, which includes some cuss words from me, and plenty of f-bombs in the quotations and dialogue from the impassioned climbers themselves.


Click link to stream audio. To download, on Safari right-click the link; on Chrome click and then hit the download button in the player; on iPhone press and hold the link for options. That taxes my tech knowledge, sorry. The files are named sequentially, so once saved to wherever your device puts downloads, they should play in order. 

Introduction (5′) + Chapter 1 (Lost Time) & Chapter 2 (In the Beginning) (25′)

Chapter 3 (Toni, Toni, Toni) & Chapter 4 (January 2012) (24′)

• Chapter 5 (1959) & Chapter 6 (Aftermath 1959) (28’)

Chapter 7 (Doubt, Rage, and a Gas-Powered Compressor) & Chapter 8 (Ragni di Lecco) (37’)

Chapter 9 (Body of Evidence) (40′)

• Chapter 10 (Origins of Belief) & Chapter 11 (Poseidon and Zeus) (27’)

• Chapter 12: Cold Reality & Chapter 13: Blessed by Bridwell (39’)

Chapter 14: The Grandfather Clause, Ch15: Insight from Reinhold, Ch16: Examination of a Myth (22’)

• Chapter 17: New Patagonia & Chapter 18: El Arca de los Vientos (25’)

• Chapter 19: Aftermath 2005 & Chapter 20: Stop Making Sense (22’)

Chapter 21: Los Tiempos Perdidos (32′)

Chapter 22: A New Story, Ch23: The Democratic Republic of Cerro Torre, Ch24: Demystification of a Massif (48’)

Chapter 25: A Brief Commercial Interruption + Chapter 26: Contrast on the Southeast Ridge (29’)

• Chapter 27: Seven Days (54′)

Chapter 28: Aftermath 2012, Ch29: Everybody Has an Opinion, Ch30: Cesare’s Letter, Ch31: Growing Pains (48’)

• Chapter 32: Alone with the Truth, Ch33: The Man and the Mountains, Ch34: Fact-Checking Interlude, Ch35: My Truth (32’)

Epilogue + Postscript (29′)

25 thoughts on “Audio Book (sort of…)

  1. Nice! Thank you! Now when you have started this, you have to go on until the we hear the last page of the book 🙂

  2. Dude. So stoked. Thanks.

    (If you’re looking for help getting these files loaded onto various platforms — podcasts, youtube audio, where-ever else — there’s probably plenty of folks with some extra time on hand who would be stoked to help make that happen, myself not excluded.

    Thanks again. Stoked to dive in to these 🙂

    Now where’s the voluntary donation link and who do the proceeds go to?😝

  3. Kelly,
    I thought I’d space each chapter out throughout these quiet days of the pandemic, but I couldn’t. As each chapter finished I wanted more.
    Thank you for taking this on.
    As you speak, I feel like I’m in Patagonia, sitting around a campfire for story time. The mountains looming in the back ground, a group of starry eyed listeners, fully captivated by the story. Each sitting on the edge of their seat to hear what’s next.
    Thank you, till Chapter 5

    Sincerely, Bronson

  4. I have the book and have read it twice but am looking forward to hearing you read it as well. I’ve sent your offer to a host of climbing buddies. Thanks for doing this; it helps.

  5. Absolutely loving this……..such an amazing story, but to have it read by the author is truely the biggest treat!!! Thank you sooooooo much!!

  6. Thanks so much Kelly! My wife and I have both read the book once, but this’ll make our upcoming seasonal move from Summit Country to Mazama much smoother. You’re the man!

  7. This is awesome Kelly!! After reading the book a few years ago it’s really nice to revisit the story and even more fun listening to you tell it! Thank you for sharing 🙏🙏🙏

    • So glad you like it, Tohru, hope it’s helping pass the time. No worries on the donation — make it to your local food bank, or some medical folks, or just pass it along in good will. Take care and many thanks.

  8. Hi Kelly,
    Just finished listening to your reading – I’m a UK NHS key worker and still commuting in daily. I bought your book initially in 2014 but listening to you read it has made me pick it up again and I hope others will be inspired to buy it as it makes so much more sense with the pictures and the ability to go back and re-read sections.
    I’ve really enjoyed hearing it with your voice and, despite the occasional stumbles, dodgy foreign accents and appalling Italian pronunciation, I have looked forward to hearing new chapters every day and I’m pretty disappointed it’s finished now. I also loved the parts when your dog wakes up and the clink of ice in a glass before you start reading 😉
    Anyway, my thanks again and good luck for the future – hope you have more books in the pipeline. Stay safe.



    PS – by the way, I heard about this via Andy Kirkpatrick

    • Wonderful, Mike. Thank you for the kind words, and I’m delighted that my stumbles and mumbles (and indeed, appalling is the correct word for my Italian, ha! Reading that made me laugh, thanks), and the story, have helped your commute. Best wishes with your work and stay healthy.
      Thank you,

  9. This takes me back years when I first heard you telling a story on Dirtbag Diaries or Kalus’ first podcast about a job you had at a bakery and the insensitive comments of the owner…expressive and easy on the ears delivery. The Tower itself is enjoyable with all the many photographs and interviews; this audio reading by you is a wonderful gift at this time of uncertainty for many.
    Thank you!

  10. Thanks so much for posting the readings Kelly. Really appreciate it. Fascinating well researched story and the descriptions of Patagonia have been sustaining my mountain starved brain. Sending stoked your way from Canada.

  11. Listening to chapter 8, and I’m super eager to better understand the geometry of the 20 homebuilt rime anchors. Sounds similar to a mechanism ive heard called “split petal flares” used in fluid dynamics control.

    Any further insights into their construction you can offer? Photos anywhere?

    In my best Indiana Jones vocal impersonation: “It belongs in a museum!”

    Cheers and thanks again Kelly. Mega inspiring stuff.

    • Thanks, Brent! Yeah, super interesting about their homemade anchors. Unfortunately I don’t have anything more. I recall Mario making a sketch and, I think, saying something about similarities to fish gills or such — to my mind, indeed this could be like the “split petal flares” you mention (which I had to google, and still barely understand…fluid dynamics control is quite a few (thousand) levels above my pay grade). Wish I knew more!

      • Fascinating. I wonder if the “fish gills” bit is similar to SLCD’s or those mechanical broadhead arrows – slide them in, they’re low profile. Pull them outwards, and the barbs/flares/whatever snag.

        I suppose for rime you’d want them to pull perpendicular to the thickness of the ice?

        Hard to reckon how they’d pull out when desired, too…

        Fun stuff to think about!

        (Ehhhh paygrades are for folks climbing ladders ‘cause they aren’t wise enough to climb rocks instead! >_< 😀

        Fluid dynamics is fun stuff, though! Check this shit out:

        Good viewing after a marg or two, i hear.)

        Again, this audiobook is a real treat. Much obliged!

  12. Awesome Kelly! Thank you for this. This helped me keep the Covid blues at bay.

    With your vivid descriptions I felt like I was gripped on vertical rock, a mile up, on Cerro Torre. So vivid that I shuddered at the thought of actually being there in those frozen hurricane-like conditions. Intense!

    The controversy was well covered with many sides explained. It was just as much an exploration the human psyche as it was an exploration of the mountain.

    It would be interesting to hear you explore other controversies. The first summit of the Grand Teton (my home range) comes to mind. Many publications have already been done exploring this, but your story telling and passion would surely paint and epic retelling.

    Thanks again!

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