Peak Summary

Roland Smith


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Peak Summary

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Peak is a 2007 young adult novel by Roland Smith. It focuses on one boy’s attempt to be the youngest person to climb Mount Everest, and the twists of fate that brought him to the summit.

Fourteen-year-old Peak Marcello is arrested for illegally climbing a skyscraper in New York City. Facing imprisonment, his only other option is to leave the country and live in Thailand with his father, Joshua Wood, who Peak has not seen in seven years. He agrees to leave with Wood in order to escape the juvenile detention center, and is given probation and a $150,000 fine.

As Peak prepares to leave for Thailand, the novel gives us a glimpse of his home life in New York. He lives with his mother Teri, step-father Rolf, and twin half-sisters, Paula and Patrice. Both his mother and father were once climbing fanatics (hence his name), but after injuring her back soon after Peak was born, she never climbed again. Peak’s dad soon left, continuing his climbing obsession with his mountaineering and adventure company, Peak Experience.

Peak and Josh leave New York and head to Bangkok. However, Josh soon reveals that they are not actually traveling to Chiang Mai, Thailand, as he told the courts, but actually going to scale Everest. Josh states that if he makes it to the top, Peak would be the youngest person to climb Everest. So they travel instead to Kathmandu, Nepal. At their hotel, Peak meets a retired Sherpa named Zopa and a Nepalese boy his age named Sun-jo. Zopa helps Peak buy gear and they spend the next few days training together.

They travel to Tibet along with two Sherpa brothers named Yogi and Yash, as they don’t need a permit to scale Everest from Tibet. Once they arrive at Base Camp, Peak is reunited with Josh, and also meets a reporter from New York named Holly Angelo, who will be making the climb with him. Josh has also invited a film crew along, and Peak suspects that his father is using him to promote his company, and only whisked him away to Everest in order to to garner publicity for his business. Despite courting this media attention, Josh is keeping his ambition for Peak secret, as he does not want the other climbers or authorities to catch wind of him putting resources into a young boy that might be better used on an experienced climber.

After waiting a few days, Peak is able to climb to ABC (Advance Base Camp), a stop further up the mountain. Though harrowing, he makes it, and then descends again to Base Camp in order to acclimate to Everest’s thin air. Once back at HQ, the climbers have a meeting wherein it is revealed that not only is Sun-jo Zopa’s grandson, but that he is also fourteen, and it is his goal to be the youngest person to reach the summit as well. He hopes that his successful climb would provide him with equipment endorsements that would give him the money to send himself and his sisters to school. It is also revealed that Sun-jo’s father died saving Josh.

Zopa informs Peak that he thinks he is ready to reach the summit. He is excited, and reveals his plan to the paying climbers in Josh’s troupe. However, they are furious that the resources have been wasted on an inexperienced boy, and Josh initially appears to agree and says that Peak will not climb to the summit. Peak, disappointed, gets into a truck with Zopa to leave camp. It is then that Zopa presents him with a letter from Josh explaining that it was all a farce, and Peak would be climbing to the summit after all via an alternate route with Zopa, Sun-jo, Yash, and Yogi. It soon becomes clear, however, that the alternate route they are taking to preserve their secrecy is much more dangerous. Sun-jo’s axe breaks on an ice wall and Peak risks his own life to save him. Right as they reach the top, Peak lets Sun-jo reach it, recording it on video and never actually touching the summit poles himself. He acknowledges that Sun-jo needs the prestige and endorsements much more than Peak, and he wants to help the boy who has become a close friend.

Peak descends the mountain, says goodbye to Josh, and returns home in time for a birthday party for his sisters. The journalist, Holly, is also at the party, discussing her story about the youngest person to climb Everest: Sun-jo.

Peak, reunited with his family, then returns to school, where he is asked to turn in the notebook containing the story of his climb. He concludes his report with: ““The only thing you’ll find on the summit of Mount Everest is a divine view. The things that really matter lie far below.”