Although I have nothing but the utmost respect for these reknowned climbers and their worthy attempt to summit K2, I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as some of the other climbing epics out there today.
It is interesting to see the difference in climbing narratives written back in the 50's as compared to those written in the last thirty years or so. It seems like there was a different attitude toward climbing in the 50's and before, one that was more supportive of teamwork and cooperation, whereas many of today's narrations are more reflective of each person being responsible for taking care of him or herself only (such as the '96 Everest disaster). As in the case of Art Gilkey's emergency situation, the entire team without question (at least in this rendition of the story) made the effort to get him off of the mountain.
I was somewhat bored by this narrative though (except for storm and the famous Pete Schoening team-arrest) and it's one-dimensional portrayal of the team members. It made me wonder if Houston and Bates were telling it like it really was. They were always very complimentary toward everyone on the team. But in extreme, stressful conditions (both mentally and physically) like these, don't people sometimes become short-tempered, or even withdrawn? But perhaps the authors' objective was not to give insight into individual team members and how they interacted with one another, but rather to just tell of their adventure and how, through remarkable teamwork, they were able to survive K2 against the odds, and live to tell about it.
I also would have liked to see more detailed maps of their route throughout the book, so it would be easier to follow them on their ascent and descent.
I won't deny that this book deserves a place with the other classic mountaineering epics, due to the extraordinary events that this team lived through. However, I prefer narratives that really tell it like it is, "warts and all." I want to get a true sense of the struggles (to feel like I am really there in the bitter cold), and come to understand each person who makes up the entire team.