Study Guide

Three Cups of Tea Chapter 1

By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Chapter 1

Failure

  • In Pakistan's Karakoram mountains, Greg Mortenson is lost on K2.
  • He is stunned by "something unfamiliar in his life to that point—failure" (1.7). Other things unfamiliar to Mortenson? Humility, time management, ethics…
  • His motivation for scaling K2 is to leave his dead sister Christa's necklace at the summit, which is 28,267 feet high.
  • Mortenson starts crying ("It's the high altitude, guys, I swear") and bundles himself up for the night.
  • It's been a rough day for him, and he's already had to bail out another climber who couldn't complete the ascent.
  • Because sleep is "out of the question" (1.25), Mortenson sits and ponders his situation—it's his body that has failed, "not his spirit" (1.47).