Mark the Mountain Guide
Mark the Mountain Guide is a series of illustrated children's books which combine short tales with an introduction to mountaineering. The books are written by Mark Seaton and illustrated by Graham Philpot. The series is published by Boxer Books.
Author Mark Seaton and David Bennett, a publisher of children's books, conceived the books while they climbed Mont Blanc together. David Bennett was responsible for commissioning the Where's Waldo? books which have sold over 40 million copies worldwide.
The British mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington provides the introduction, and the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations offers their seal of approval to the technical section at the end of the books.
The main character is Mark, a mountain guide. Most of the characters are engaging animals, including Leo the Mountain Dog and three little Marmot Mountaineers. At the end of the story, an instructional section explains more about some of the phenomena encountered along the way. In the first book, Mark the Mountain Guide, this includes child-friendly explanations of what causes an avalanche, how mountains are formed and why stars are so bright at altitude. A glossary defines mountain-related words from the story, including terms like avalanche, crampon, gorge, glacier and mountaineer.
This section also includes practical information to get children started on their mountaineering careers, such as how to build an igloo, what a mountaineer wears and carries in his pack, and how to tie a couple of useful knots. To facilitate this particular skill, the first book includes a toy carabiner and a length of accessory cord.
Later books continue this format. For example, the second book, Mark the Mountain Guide and the Compass Adventure, includes a working compass & brief illustrated explanations of the history, science & technique behind magnetic needles used for navigation.
Seaton's accomplishments as a professional mountain guide include the first complete unassisted British guided ascent of the Eiger Nordwand with his client Charles Sherwood in 2007. In 2008, Seaton & Sherwood teamed up again to complete a traverse of Mont Blanc via an ascent of Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey, the most difficult 4000-m summit in the Alps.
In 1996, Mark led Don Planner, the first blind man to climb Mont Blanc. Planner, incidentally, was also the first man to reach the summit after undergoing a heart by-pass operation.
Mark has also guided various regiments of the British army including the Special Forces.
Graham Philpot, a children's artist best known as the creator of Anthony Ant, illustrates the books.