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A Day to Die For: 1996: Everest's Worst Disaster - One Survivor's Personal Journey to Uncover the Truth [Paperback]

Graham Ratcliffe
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Feb 2011

On the night of 10-11 May 1996, eight climbers perished in what remains the worst disaster in Everest's history. Following the tragedy, numerous accounts were published, with Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air becoming an international bestseller. But has the whole story been told?

A Day to Die For reveals for the first time the full, startling facts that led to the tragedy. Graham Ratcliffe, the first British climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest twice, was a first-hand witness, having spent the night on Everest's South Col at 26,000 ft, sheltering from the deadly storm. For years, he has shouldered a burden of guilt, feeling that he and his teammates could have saved lives that fateful night. His quest for answers has led to discoveries so important to an understanding of the disaster that he now questions why these facts were not made public sooner.

History is dotted with highprofile disasters that both horrify and capture the attention of the public, but very rarely is our view of them revised to such devastating effect.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (3 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845966384
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845966386
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 189,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


[An] incredible story of high-adventure and of a very moving personal journey--Outdoor Enthusiast

A welcome addition to the history of mountaineering . . . an absorbing read--Boardman Tasker Prize

I was completely engrossed . . . this is pretty serious stuff . . . the writing is forthright and precise and the book gallops along at a riveting pace . . it's a must read--The Climber, New Zealand Alpine Club

Reads like a detective thriller . . . a book that pulls no punches and tells it how it was--SA Mountain Sport

Discovers important omissions, bordering on deception, in a number of authoritative accounts such as Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Breashears' High Exposure . . . provides greater understanding of the key factors behind the decisions made that led to the tragic deaths--Wild Magazine

Graham Ratcliffe has experienced triumph but also tragedy . . . and for the very first time tells of his remarkable journey--Daily Express

A blow-by-blow account that puts the reader at the heart of the drama (****)--News of the World

Throws a whole new light on the disaster--Weekly News

Book Description

The truth about the 1996 Everest disaster by one of its survivors

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Brooks
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
CONTAINS SPOILER AT END OF REVIEW; You know when you've been to work training courses, where 3 hours of information is stretched over 2 days and taught by 'hilarious' anecdotes to illustrate each mundane point that leaves you so frustrated inside. Welcome to this book. There is one point made in this. Holy moly a whole book on a single, albeit, important point. The editor needed some serious and radical red penning of this manuscript.

I came away with a dislike of the author whose heavy pen welding hand stomps over every page.

Seriously think twice about spending the money unless you have time to waste on the minutae of someone else's life. The whole book, other than all the anecdotes, is about the fact that the ill fated teams had access to weather reports and knew the weather was going to turn the day after the chosen summit day but risked it instead of waited. In doing so it appeared they risked others lives by asking them to submit the following day, to leave the 10th free for them, knowing there was an expected and forecasted storm.

Now if you want more, an endless detailed pub bores conversation on how he found that out spend your money on this book. Otherwise give it a miss.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must in your mountain bookshelf! 3 April 2011
I have read all the books covering the 1996 disaster on Everest, and this was a true disaster which could have easily been avoided by a better judgement of some main people involved. Scott and Rob had their own strict rules that they both ignored on summit day. As responsible for clients, that is something you just do not do. Even on a mountain as Everest. Maybe specially not on a mountain like Everest!

I find Grahams book compelling reading and it is a true "untold story". His story gave me a chill through my spine. Ratcliffe has invested an enormous time in investigating what really happened just before the summit day of 10th of May 1996. His writing is riveting and it was not easy to put it away even if I had a lot of other things to do. I just had to find out what happened during these devastating days. His angle of the story is really different and very personal. That to his credit 100%. Every story about mountaineering and others has more than one view. As for Maurice Herzog`s "Annapurna" the Everest 1996 story has its different chapters and Graham has given us one new and important chapter. I find the book well written and a true gold-bar in my book shelf. One can only salut his guts for daring to tell us his story and I admire his stubbornness for never giving up his quest to find answers.

Thanks for a great reading!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! 3 April 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A Day To Die For: 1996: Everest's Worst Disaster - The Untold True Story
A wonderful book. The story of one man's tenacity to get to the truth about the 1996 disaster. He was there and knows. Graham writes naturally and simply and pulls you in to the story. Ignore the 1 star spoilers and READ it yourself. Angela
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars There are much better books than this 24 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having read a few books on this subject I was looking forward to hearing a different side to the events. To me this read like the author's autobiography with a small part about the disaster in the middle ,and then his justification as to why he didn't go to help. Save your money there are much better books out there .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good In Parts 5 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I would say the first two thirds of this book is very readable. Once the tedious investigation of whether the guided party leaders had access to weather summaries kicks in, it is laboured and tiresome. The story of the authors life from pit to Everest is excellent. I think his views regarding Scott Fischer and Rob Hall are a little caustic at times. Yes mistakes were made but I am not sure this author was the right person to conduct an ad hoc investigation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weather or not 22 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Found the last 30% hard to get through as the account of getting to the bottom of the forecasts was long winded at best. The account does throw a different light though on why so many perished and the drivers that potentially helped make those decisions to ignore the signs.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful account! 25 April 2011
"A Day to Die for" presents a carefully researched account of the worst disaster in the history of Everest. Graham Ratcliffe deals with the disturbing facts and arrives frankly but sympathetically at some disquieting conclusions. The book is, however, more than an unravelling of a mystery; it vividly descibes the beautiful surroundings as well as the thrills and dangers experienced by dedicated mountaineers.
Alan Wilkinson
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A collection of the facts. 4 April 2011
A good read for those with an interest in high altitude mountaineering, especially for those with knowledge of the events of May 1996 on Everest. Graham has also included interesting anecdotes and experiences encountered during his travels and whilst gathering information for this book.

As for Graham's conclusions, well he has presented the most inclusive set evidence and circumstances to date of the events that day so draw you own conclusions and see if they agree with Graham's. In any event the two main characters are no longer here to add their version of events, they have held onto their reasoning to proceed to the summit so all we have left is speculation.

Well done, Graham, it was worth the effort and all those sleepless nights.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and truly gripping read
This is yet another book on the Everest disaster of 1996 but sets out to bring new evidence into the public domain about how the disaster happened, presenting details of... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Rowena Cotterill
2.0 out of 5 stars ok
Ratcliffe has a wonderful way with prose which makes this book worth reading, but sadly the detail of the ascent and actual second summit is unfortunately lacking. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Staycalm49
3.0 out of 5 stars Plodding Along
Graham Ratcliffe seems like a nice chap and a sound mountaineer. I'm not too sure what he's about with this book though. It's a book about his research into a book he's writing. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Egasa
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written account, but not too convinced by the conclusions
While it goes without saying that it's somewhat presumptuous for a reader or reviewer to make judgement calls on something they did not experience personally, I couldn't help but... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. J. Hoy
3.0 out of 5 stars starts off very good
Too much analysis in the final chapters , yes people died in 1996 , the author was there at the time , the book needs more editing and in the light of what has happened on Everest... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stuart Richardson
5.0 out of 5 stars A Day to Die For
I really did enjoy this book. I don't know what really happened re: the weather forecasts and it detracted from my enjoyment of the book a little as I found it hard to believe... Read more
Published 4 months ago by GoldenGem
4.0 out of 5 stars Tenaciously researched account ...
I love controversy, not to mention a conspiracy and this book seems to divide the climbing community and armchair adventurers alike. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ruby
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Having read a few books on the 1996 Everest disaster, it always appeared that the biggest question about the weather was never answered so I it was refreshing to read this book... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Miss P J Hopkins
5.0 out of 5 stars A DAY TO DIE FOR >
Published 8 months ago by ilene crawford
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Really enjpyibg this book. I've read other books about the 1996 tragedies on Everest and this is far less subjective and judgemental. Read more
Published 9 months ago by JDiz
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