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K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain Paperback – 3 Aug 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (3 Aug. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767932609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767932608
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 203,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Viesturs illuminates K2's challenges, triumphs, tragedies, and follies....riverting. --The Daily Beast

Reveals a good deal about the rarefied noble-gonzo world of high-altitude mountaineering...K2 is gripping. --New York Times

Viesturs's you-are-there narration communicates effortlessly the enormous effort, and high adventure, of scaling K2. --Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Ed Viesturs still climbs and seeks out new adventures. He lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, with his wife and three children. DAVID ROBERTS is the author of twenty books on mountaineering, adventure, and history. He has written for National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, and Smithsonian. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
America's first mountaineer to climb the 14 8000m peaks, Viesturs describes the major events on K2 along with his personal views. Ed examines "the questions of risk, ambition, loyalty to one's teammates, self-sacrifice, and the price of glory", sharing his direct honest opinions, like: "jerk", "I just don't buy it", "why didn't he get out and do something", and "that directive strikes me as questionable at best". I myself firmly believe in Ed's approach - getting into great physical shape with a thoroughness and intensity of preparation and planning, being a clock watcher and on time, non confrontational, carrying your own weight, and being patient.

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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Isitt on 12 Jun. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What should have been a great book about K2 turned out to be a rather dull and pedestrian account of various attempts to climb it. There is a lot of logistical detail, but no soul, no poetry, no tension. The writing is factual to the point of tedium, and although I have been an avid consumer of mountaineering books, I skipped through quite a lot of this one. The author is one of the few people still alive who could conjure up what it actually feels like to be on the upper slopes of K2, and yet makes no attempt to do anything other than impart a few facts. Such a shame.

And there's also quite a lot of "me me me" in this book, looking back at other people's mistakes with 20/20 hindsight and condemning them for their foolish decisions, while making sure that the reader knows that he would have done things differently. Indeed, the reader is constantly reminded that the author has climbed all 14 of the 8000ers, and the more the author repeats this fact, the more smug and self-satisfied he sounds. One of the things that comes across quite strongly in this (and other books) is that mountaineers seem to be a pretty unpleasant lot...sanctimonious, amoral, greedy, selfish, etc. For every story of heroism and self-sacrifice in the mountains, there seem to be dozens more of lying, cheating, plotting, jealousy, rivalry, abandonment, etc.

I was looking for the K2 version of White Spider, or Into Thin Air, or Touching the Void, but this book isn't it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RBSProds TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 April 2012
Format: Paperback
Five AIRY Stars!! Author & mountaineer Ed Viesturs is one of the world's great climbers who has pulled off the rare feat of reaching the summit of all 14 "8000 meters and higher" peaks, topped off by Everest. This up-to-date book on the second highest mountain, K2, written along with mountaineering author David Roberts, follows Viesturs' famous book No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks. Mr. Viesturs knows K2 very well since he made a troubled ascent of this 28,241 ft monster which he barely survived. He also gives a historical view of the most important attempts at climbing this mountain with the highest fatality rates among 8000 meter peaks. Compared to Everest, which the author says has many ascents each climbing season, K2 is a unique experience with comparatively fewer ascents. Difficult to get to in the Karakoram range, avalanche-prone, plagued by bad weather, with bivouacs inadvisable, and with no winter ascents, K2 is a daunting proposition for the most experienced climbers in the best of circumstances.

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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rusty on 11 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ed has managed to tell the history of climbing K2 in a way that is not only factual but also taps into the human side of this great mountain.
A well researched and totally riveting book from a man who has not only scaled K2 himself but who still has the old fashioned values of mountaineering. Couldn't put this down along with either of Andy Caves books I'd rate this as top of my list for mountaineering books.
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