I applaud the author for writing about a subject I love.I used to lead treks to the Everest Base Camp and have long and wonderful relationships with Sherpas. I wrote about them in Beyond the Summit. Korman obviously did some research on the subject. I just wish he had done a better job. There are so many glaring errors in the book and implausible situations. In the opening, he refers to yaks being everywhere in Kathmandu at an elevation of about 4,500 feet. There are no yaks in Kathmandu. They rarely venture below about 11,00 feet.
The biggest problem is the age of the characters, especially the thirteen-year-old Dominic. Nepal has a very strict minimum age requirement for issuing permits to climb Everest, so strict in fact that they would not issue a permit for the son of a famous Sherpa climber this year. So the entire premise of these young teens climbing doesn't work from the beginning. The book was published in 2002. In 2010, a thirteen-year-old set the record as youngest to summit. He had to climb from the Northern side in Tibet because Tibet had no minimum age. After much adverse reaction from the climbing community, Tibet instituted a minimum age of eighteen. A character name Ethan is in the book as the youngest to climb Everest. In reality, no such person exists.
They fly to Lukla for two hours in a helicopter standing up and holding onto a strap. Wrong. It takes 35 minutes to get there. Small planes make the flight. I did fly into Lukla in a Russian helicopter in the early 90's. We did not stand. We sat along the sides with cargo down the center.
Dominic is the hero of the book, and here's where the whole story becomes outlandish. First of all, he's referred to as the shrimp, youngest and smallest of the group. After suffering from high altitude pulmonary edema and being forced to remain lower for days, he comes to base camp and goes into the icefall by himself, wearing only sweats, a light jacket, and thin gloves. The icefall is the most dangerous part of any Everest expedition. The adults in charge of the kids have no idea he's in there by himself? Dominic meets Sherpas carrying loads to higher camps. He decides to carry with them and goes all the way to the advanced base camp in those clothes, carrying heavy weight. He buddies up with the Sherpas and carries loads through the icefall with them numerous times? Where are the adults? And Sherpas would never allow this to happen. The risk is far too great.
Babu Sherpa,the most famous of all, is working with the teens. The author refers to him as lard ball and says he waddles. This is outlandish. Sherpas are lean and strong, especially one who works on Everest. Korman has the characters wanting to kick out all the Sherpas. This gross disrespect for a tribe that makes climbing Everest possible offends me greatly.
In one scene an avalanche tumbles down and buries half the advanced base camp. One of the teens sits in her small tent listening to music and doesn't even notice? Come on.
The final portion of the book about another team being at 27,000 feet on Lhotse is far fetched and implausible. Dominic's rescue would not happen. Wearing an oxygen mask in howling winds, he hears someone yell to him from half a mile away?
There are too many other pieces of misinformation to include here. I just wish Korman had done a better job of researching his subject.
However, young readers wanting excitement about a place far away and who who don't know the reality of a climb and the facts will most likely enjoy the story.