Roland Smith

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When your parents are famous mountain climbers, you can end up with a weird name. Peak Marcello figures his could have been worse. Instead of Peak, he could have been named Glacier, or even Abyss.

Peak knows that he has climbing in his blood. His dad took him for the first time when he was only five years old. When he lived in Wyoming with his mom, he used to practice climbing on the rock wall behind their log cabin.

But then his mom married his step-dad, Rolf, and they moved to New York City. What kind of tall things could he climb in New York City?

That’s right, buildings! The only problem—it’s not legal to climb skyscrapers. And though Peak is extra careful, while he’s climbing his sixth building, he gets caught. Before he knows it, he’s facing three years in jail…until his dad shows up.

Peak’s real dad is Josh Wood, one of the most famous climbers in the world. He hasn’t bothered to play much of a part in Peak’s life…until now. He shows up at Peak’s court hearing and says he’ll take Peak to live with him at his home in Thailand.

So Peak finds himself on a plane…thinking he’ll move into his dad’s house and start school. But before he knows it, they are on a flight to Nepal—and to Mt. Everest, where Peak’s dad is leading a climbing expedition.

Peak goes from jail…to getting to climb Mt. Everest? Could it get any better?

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. Why does Peak feel the need to climb and tag skyscrapers?
  2. Discuss Peak’s father, Josh Wood. What kind of a person is he? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Would you want him to be your father?
  3. How is Peak's stepfather, Rolf, different from Peak's dad?
  4. Peak's dad talks about how his customers pay more than $100,000 to climb the mountain. Some of them are not in good enough health to make it and require lots of help. Does this seem fair to you?
  5. How do the other climbers treat the sherpas and porters?
  6. Why was Peak angry that Sun-jo did not share did true identity with him? Would you have been angry about this?
  7. How does Holly change during her time on the mountain?
  8. Why does Peak's dad decide to let Sun-jo have a chance to reach the summit?
  9. Why do you think Zopa could always tell what the weather was going to be?
  10. After reading this book, would you want to climb Mt. Everest?
  11. Do you think Peak made the right decision about summiting Mt. Everest? Why or why not?

If you liked this book, try

  • Blind Mountain by Jane Resh Thomas
  • Thunder Cave by Roland Smith
  • Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen
  • Hurricane: A novel by Terry Trueman
  • Shipwreck by Gordon Korman

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.