Every sixteen year old has a dream. For Rudi Matt, it is to climb to the summit of the Citadel, the formidable mountain on which his father froze to death fifteen years prior, trying to save a fellow mountain climber. Unfortunately, Rudi’s widowed mother has other plans. She believes that managing a hotel in their little Swiss village is a much safer profession than that of a mountain climbing guide. Rudi feared his dream would die amidst the dirty dishes he washes in the restaurant of the Beau Site Hotel. Then, while playing hooky from work, he saved the life of the renowned climber Captain John Winter. Now he has the chance to prove to his family, and himself, that he has the skill and the heart for mountaineering that his father possessed.
This classic “rite of passage” story about a young adolescent has much to say about manhood. While Rudi disobeys his mother’s wishes in exploring the Citadel’s rock and glaciers, he never loses his sense of responsibility toward his fellow climbers. Somewhat overconfident at first, Rudi learns from his mistakes. His desire to reach the top of the seemingly insurmountable Citadel is driven not by ambition or pride, but by a sense of loyalty to his father, a man he cannot even remember. It is that loyalty that prevents Rudi from being drawn into a competition to be the first to the Citadel’s summit. Instead, he puts the life of his adversary before his own goals, demonstrating the self-sacrifice of a true man.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.