K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain Paperback – Aug 3 2010
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“Gripping...reveals a good deal about the rarefied noble-gonzo world of high-altitude mountaineering.”
—New York Times
“Viesturs illuminates K2's challanges, triumphs, tragedies, and follies...Riveting.”
—The Daily Beast
“Viesturs's you-are-there narration communicates effortlessly the enormous effort, and high adventure, of scaling K2.”
About the Author
ED VIESTURS is the first and only American to ascend all fourteen of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen and the author of The Mountain, No Shortcuts to the Top, and The Will to Climb.
In addition to his collaborations with Ed Viesturs, DAVID ROBERTS is the author of more than twenty books, including Finding Everett Ruess.
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Top Customer Reviews
You should buy this book first and foremost for Viesturs account of his own summit of K2 in 1992, second for his opinions of the controversial 1939 U.S. expedition led by Fritz Weissner, third for his critique of the August 2008 season where 11 climbers died in a 36-hour period, and finally as a history of the main events in K2's history, including 1938 U.S. reconnaissance expedition, the 1953 U.S. expedition, the controversial first ascent by the Italians in 1954, and the terrifying 1986 season that left 12 dead. There are 8 pages of colour photos (4 from Viesturs K2 ascent in 1992), 8 pages of b/w photos, a 2-page map, and one b/w sketch..
The book starts with Ed critiquing the 2008 tragedy where 11 climbers died in a 36-hour period. He clarifies the misconception that they were all killed when pieces of the frightening large ice serac above the bottleneck fell off. He also states that the real heroes were the Sherpas, unselfishly going back up the mountain to rescue climbers.Read more ›
Ed Viesturs is one of the few climbers to have achieved that glorious distinction of having sucesfully summitted the worlds highest 14 peaks (above 8000 metres or 8000'ers as they are referred to).
The second highest mountain, K2, is the focus of this book, co written by mountaineering author David Roberts. Viesturs is intimate with K2, and has had his share of challenges during his own ascent of this difficult and dangerous 28,241 ft peak, which provide for some wonderful edge of the seat moments during the telling! The book is a deliciously detailed commentary on some of the most difficult (sometimes fatal) attempts at summiting K2,a mountain with the dubious distinction of having the highest fatality rate among all the 14 8000ers (There is a statistic provided in the book that suggests 1 in every 4 climbers have succumbed to K2 since the time summit attempts have been recorded, for this mountain).
Another stand-out insight into the difference between the world's highest (and perhaps most recognizable peak by name) Everest and K2, is the fact that Everest hosts several ascents by teams each year during the peak season, whereas K2 continues to be the path least trodden by experts and novices alike (Everest has had some interesting and successful summiteers in recent times, including a double amputee, a 70 year old, etc - this has not (yet) occurred on K2 to date) perhaps a stark testament to the vastly complex and difficult set of challenges, variables (weather)and sheer unpredictabbility that K2 poses for any 'wannabe' summiteer!Read more ›
Beginning with the events of August 1 & 2, 2008 which became the worst climbing disaster in the history of K2 (an accumulation of events), Mr Viesturs gives both a very frank and personal viewpoint of his own climb and experiences, juxtaposed with other major campaigns and historical events over the years. Despite many 'topical switchbacks' between different climbs which can be mildly difficult to follow, this is an engrossing and sometimes touching read that covers teams, climbing techniques, tactics, heroics and failures, lives and deaths.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Forgetting the shocking omissions he makes vis-a-vis the 1996 Everest disaster (I'm not even going there), I have never seen such an unjustified sense of grandeur in a mountaineer. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Lindsay
Good read by someone who has climbed all the 8,000 m peaks and knows what he's talkign about.
Viesturs obviously thinks he's pretty darn neat, but that doesn't take away... Read more
I have often quoted Ed Viesturs famous saying, "Reaching the summit is optional. getting down is mandatory" on my several desert four-wheeling and canoeing / kayaking adventures. Read morePublished on Jan. 1 2011 by Suhail Zubaid AHMAD
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