Halfway to Heaven – Reviews

Halfway-to-Heaven-Cover – interview 3 page

Denver Post interview

Colorado Public Radio interview (audio)

Winner — 2009 National Outdoor Book Award for Outdoor Literature

“In this fun, humorous, and warm-hearted story, Mark Obmascik sets out to climb all of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains. But Obmascik, the father of three sons, has a problem. He is overweight and utterly out of shape. To get ready, he joins a spin class of mostly perimenopausal women. When he begins to slack off, the women prod him into keeping at it. He reciprocates by adjusting the wall fans for them when hot flashes hit. Then summer comes, and off he goes, chasing his dream to climb all 54 summits. It’s a rollicking, non-stop adventure with an all-star cast of eccentrics and fanatics. But…does he make it? You’ll find out in this delightfully and devilishly clever book.”
– National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation

Former Denver Post writer Mark Obmascik woke up one day and realized he was “fat, forty-four, and in the market for a vasectomy.” He decided to recharge his life, and his relationship with his oldest son, by trying to climb all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in a year. The effort is recounted with wit and style in Halfway, a much easier read than climbing those mountains.
– Sports Illustated

“Ain’t No Mountain”

At 44, moved by his son’s experience at camp and craving a little adventure, journalist Mark Obmascik set out to climb all 54 of Colorado’s so-called Fourteeners-named for their 14,000-foot peaks—in less than a year. Accompanied by a parade of eccentric (but mostly endearing) hiking partners, Obmascik conquered mountains, middle age, and self-doubt. Halfway to Heaven is his witty, engaging, and ultimately inspiring account of that thrilling and dangerous quest.
– Parade magazine

Halfway to Heaven caused me to burst out with laughter, uncontrollably, on many occasions. Obmascik’s colorful, self-deprecating humor is not only laugh-out-loud funny, but also is steeped in honesty and humility. …Obmascik complements the humor with the serious side of climbing [in] a midlife adventure that weaves family, friendship and climbing.
– Boulder Daily Camera

Obmascik writes with narrative ease… The gist of this story… is how an ordinary man finds and sustains the motivation to keep climbing. And this time, it’s not just about him. On a grander scale, it’s about his legacy.
– Outside magazine

The author maintains a breezy narrative style, a keen eye for nature’s beauty and a self-deprecating tone that makes his marathon journey fly by. His story and those of many of the free spirits he meets along the way vividly demonstrate the thrill of taking the road less traveled. Highly readable, entertaining and educational.
– Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Hilarious midlife picaresque… the result feels like a raucous bowling night, with moderate oxygen deprivation, on the brink of an abyss.
– Publishers Weekly

Editor’s Choice
– Parade Magazine May 10 issue

Mark Obmascik has written an Everyman’s “Into Thin Air” with doses of thrills, poignancy, history and plenty of laughs-out-louds.
– Indianapolis Star

Obmascik not only has admirable gumption, he has a great sense of self-deprecating humour, making for a winning combination.
– Toronto Star

Obmascik celebrates all the weekend warriors who skip the gym in favor of a backyard workout of cutting the grass and hoisting a few 12-ounce curls to recover… He chronicles each trek in sharp detail with vivid scenes, colorful supporting characters and lots of laughs.
– The Oregonian

The author’s humility about his undertaking is especially appealing. He relates his accomplishments with a quiet pride in himself, giving nearly all the credit to his supportive family and climbing partners; he never slips into boasting or bragging, and comes across as simply a very likable guy. Halfway to Heaven is a fun book, likely to appeal to a wide range of people from outdoor enthusiasts to couch-potatoes. It’s without doubt one of those books that readers will want to share with a friend or two.
– Bookbrowse

This enjoyable memoir, by a Pulitzer-winning writer, chronicles the efforts of a 44-year-old, flabby type to climb, in a single year, all of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains.
– The Washington Post

Entertaining…compassionate, thoughtful… The information is well-researched and amusing.
– The Gazette of Colorado Springs

With every lumbering step and gasping breath, Mark Obmascik proves that you don’t have to scale Everest to conquer nature – or write a great book about the great outdoors. Halfway to Heaven is an oxygen-deprived romp, a coming-of-middle-age adventure story that is by turns hilarious, gripping, poignant, and uplifting.
– Stefan Fatsis, author of A Few Seconds of Panic and Word Freak

The mountains of Colorado reach great heights, and so does this book. It’s funny, smart, fascinating, poignant – and well worth scaling!
– Jeffrey Zaslow, coauthor of The Last Lecture

I thank Mark Obmascik for writing an enlightening and funny book. And I thank him for climbing a bunch of tall mountains so I don’t have to. I was with him for every oxygen-deprived step of the way (as I lounged on my sectional sofa).
– AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All

As Obmascik chases the meaning of life across the haute peaks of the Rockies, he touches something in your heart even while he knocks on your funny bone. Halfway to Heaven is deft and delightful. Always minding his wife’s admonition never to hike alone, Obmascik proves once again that it’s the journey – and the characters met – not the summits, that really matter the most.
– Dean King, author of Skeletons on the Zahara

Obmascik tells the often funny, sometimes moving, always fascinating story of taking up the challenge of a midlife-time to climb all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains. He takes us into the strange world of obsessed mountaineers – past and present – and vividly describes the ardors, dangers, and joys of chasing that Rocky Mountain high. Whether you ever plan to climb a mountain – or just want to summit one from your armchair – Obmascik’s engaging style makes him the perfect companion for the trip.
– Susan Freinkel, 2008 National Outdoor Book Award winner for American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree

Halfway to Heaven, Mark Obmascik’s account of his quest to climb all of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, should prove an inspiration to middle-aged mountaineers everywhere. For all of his comically recounted misadventures, Obmascik has the true mountaineer’s love of high places, and a professional writer’s gift of conveying that love to the reader.
– Maurice Isserman, coauthor of the 2008 National Outdoor Book Award winner, Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes

Halfway to Heaven goes all the way in explaining what it feels like to climb all of Colorado’s fabled Fourteeners. Obmascik’s excellent writing follows more than the twists of the trails; mark generously laces his quest for the heights with insights, history, humor, politics, personalities, record runs, friends, family, flora, and fauna. Halfway to Heaven is a fortune cache for everyone.
– Gerry Roach, author of Colorado’s Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs