In this book, the author describes his climbing adventures prior to his solo mountaineering days. He began with mountains in Ecuador guided by American Alpine Institute, culminating in a climb of the highest peak in the country, Chimborazo (20,564 feet), in 1989. Because of its height and its proximity to the Equator, it is the highest mountain on Earth when measured from sea level and closest to the Sun when measured from the Earth's core. The next year, he went to Bolivia with the same company and climbed peaks there, the most notable, Illimani (21,122 feet). In 1991, he journeyed to Argentina to attempt the highest mountain in the Andes, Aconcagua (22,841 feet), by the difficult Polish Glacier Direct route, once more with AAI. After that expedition, he felt he had the skills to try things on his own, and he tells of certain of those climbs in his, "Clawing for the Stars. A Solo Climber in the Highest Andes".