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4.1 out of 5 stars76
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 27 August 2010
I have read many books on climbing but never anything about K2. I never realised just how difficult and dangerous this mountain could be.

The author, Graham Bowley, has obviously been very painstaking in interviews with the survivors and it shows in the sheer excellence of his writing. I felt as though I had climbed and descended the mountain myself by the end of the book. The story of the tragedy does not pull any punches so be prepared for sudden shocks en-route.

Also very helpful were the excellent photographs taken and included in the book. Do not miss out on a first class read if you enjoy climbing!
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on 25 July 2010
The book is very well written (by a journalist) and reads like an investigative report into what happened during the 2008 K2 disaster. The story and characters come alive through reconstructed conversations and once I started reading it, I struggled to put it down. It describes not only the events, but also the individual characters, their personalities and feelings towards eachother and how cooperation among different teams broke down.

The bits I did not like were in the Epilogue where he questions climbers motivations for climbing, the moral issues of climbing and the impact on the climbers families. While those questions are all relevant, I found his comments too superficial to do justice to a complex subject. Would have preferred if he had kept those questions out, and focused the story purely on what happened.

Overall, I really liked the book and can highly recommend it.
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on 2 August 2010
I bought this book based on the description and favorable reviews given by other authors.

What is missing from the reviews and the description (and what was slightly disappointing) is the fact that the book was written not by a witness/survivor of the events but by a journalist who investigated the story.

In my opinion it is misleading to call it "an Into Thin Air for a new century" as Doug Stanton put it.
Into Thin Air was also written by a journalist, but actually a member of the expedition and a climber which makes a huge difference when you read the book.

Therefore, to me the book although well written feels more like a dry reportage of the facts and events that were recreated by the author based on the interviews with the survivors and families of the deceased. It lacks the first hand experience/ feelings of a witness unlike in Into Thin Air.

That's the main reason it gets 4 stars from me.

The parts describing actual climbing or descending are very short and concentrated more on the result.
At the same time you will find a lot of information on the history of K2 ascends and plenty of details about the people who took part in 2008 expedition and their families. Sometimes I thought such detailed information was slightly distracting from the main story.

Very well written book, gives an objective report of the tragic events on K2 in 2008.
Has colour photos inside that were taken by members of the expedition.

Would recommend to read.
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on 14 August 2010
This is not "Into Thin Air" for a new century but since purchasing this book on Monday I have read it page to page within five days. It is a shame that the story was not put together by a survivor but there was a lot of contradiction and disagreement in regards to "Into Thin Air" while this book is a collection of accounts from those that did survive. The timing and locations of the events within the book become difficult to track but that is due to the nature of this unfortunate tradegy and the fact that it all occured within a hellish 48 hours.

What it does reveal is that while the commercial style ascents of Everest within "non-qualified" clients was blamed for the "Into Thin Air" disaster, the K2 2008 disaster was a number of expedition with various but "qualified" mountaineers and although a lack of judgement ultimately led to numerous deaths on the mountain it is easy to be an armchair mountaineer and judge others. Unless you are there and on the mountain, facing that situation with an oxygen starved brain, it is not really our place to judge.

Great book but a very sad story - I feel for the families who may read this detailed account of events.
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on 6 July 2011
This is a gripping and frightening read about death on K2. I read the book in a couple of days though I had to be careful to pick the spot for an overnight break. It is the story a 'group' of individuals; self-obsessed climbers who had a brief glimpse of their own mortality on K2. A lesson too late for those who died and a lesson too quickly forgotten by those who survived. It is an awesome and frightening thing to be at the mercy of a power beyond your control, and to realise that.

The 'problem' with the book is that it was written by a journalist who hasn't been there and done that. He was not on K2 as a participator or eye-witness to the events he relates but that's not his fault. He leaves no stone unturned in his research to get the personal perspective of all those left alive to tell the tale. Perhaps the book suffers a little from the journalist's picture-painting of the back-story of the main characters, and they are those for whom there was no way down. Never-the-less this is a minor issue in a book which is a gripping read.

I have never climbed a 26,000 foot peak let alone 28,000+ feet as K2 is. I have no personal experience of the death zone. But I have been up a few Himalayan hills over 20,000 feet and in my amateurish way been awakened to the dangers of high remote places. I have had the warm water treatment for frost bitten fingers and this story sent shivers down my spine. I've also stood in (breathless) awe on the glacier with the Northern face (Chinese side) of K2 towering over me.

I don't know that any of those who lived to relate their much greater tale to the author of this book were truly humbled by the experience. Perhaps the author didn't get that across very well or maybe that is the essence of climbing - human frailty can only be briefly acknowledged.

Read it and make up your own mind.
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on 2 February 2011
Many of the other reviewers comment negatively on the fact that the author is a journalist and wasn't a member of one of the many expeditions on K2 when these deaths occurred. I felt that that Bowley's journalism background ensured that not only is the book well written, it is fair, balanced, respectful and sensitive. I've enjoyed many other books on climbing, such as Into Thin Air, The Death Zone, Touching the Void, and many others by Krakauer and Simpson. Krakauer was at his best, I felt, when he wrote Into the Wild, an account of events in which Krakauer did not participate. He showed in this excellent book that it's not necessary to have "been there" to write a gripping story.

Bowley's book does not explore the moral issues involved in climbing, or at least does not comment on them; and unlike Into Thin Air, there is no attempt to apportion blame for the events leading to the 11 deaths. This, I feel, is appropriate for a journalist with no personal experience of climbing. It is entirely correct for experienced climber-writers like Jon Krakauer or Matt Dickinson [The Death Zone] to comment and criticise on mistakes; but not for a non-climber such as Bowley.

In summary, I found this a sympathetic, balanced, and very well-structured book.
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on 18 June 2012
I'm at a loss to understand the whinging from reviewers on here about a mountain disaster book being written by...shock, horror... a non climbing journalist. Who'd have thought it eh. There are plenty of books out there written by self indulgent, suicide merchant climbers so it makes a nice change to read a book that gives a rounded and objective view of the tragic events. The fact that its been written by a journo does not detract from the story. There are plenty of brillaint 'true crime' books that have been written by investigative journo's. These journo's weren't at the scene of the crime, they have not had access to the perpetrator or victims and yet produce some great reading so why should a story about a climbing disaster be any different. So long as the author has been diligant in their research on the subject that should be all that matters. Forget the petty 1 and 2 star spoilers and read the book yourself. You won't be disappointed.
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on 10 June 2013
Compelling and moving stories of the teams heading for the top and the people that did not return. You really can skip the book that climbers wrote, especially that of the Dutch team.
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on 18 August 2010
I climb hills in Scotland and don't do extreme sports but I was intruiged by the Financial Times review of this book and bought it immediately.
Its a fascinating insight into the different teams of people and individuals from Serbia, Holland, USA, South Korea, Norway, France, Nepal and Pakistan who attempt to climb K2 together during a weather window of opportunity during the beginning of August 2008.
What happens next is slow but terrible. Despite agreed timescales, nearly all arrive at the top far too late. Then on the descent, getting dark, the ropes are swept away in an Avalanche (hence the title "no way down"). A tragic mixture of falls, further avalanches, darkness and mistakes takes one life after another.
Its an incredible read, made even more incredible by those who survive against the odds - lost, exhausted, delirious and frostbitten - but alive.
The most poignant part of the book is the pictures taken at the top - so many who are ecstatic at the achievement are dead within an hour of the pictures being taken.
I had respect for the hills before this read but now, I am in awe.
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on 15 April 2013
This is my favourite book that I've read in the last few years. I was fully enthralled from cover to cover and read it in record time. I don't know if the fact I started reading from the middle (accidentally, I picked it up to have a quick look at the page my boyfriend's bookmarked was placed and got fully enthralled that I couldn't put it down) played a part, as the mystery of previous events kept it interesting. The writing style is rather unconventional, as all the way through it jumps from part to part and back again because there is so many situations going on at the same time within the group of climbers, so it's not exactly straightforward but I think this adds to the excitement and makes you want to read on. The story is tragic and Bowley portrays this very well, in my opinion. I would definitely recommend it as this is the best book on the K2 disaster that I have read.
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