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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2015
I bought this book expecting an insightful and well written account of the tragic events on Everest. In effect this is an attempt to absolve the author of blame for the deaths on this mountain. The first 150 pages of this book are what I expected- an account of summit attempts and trips to the region. After the short explanation of what happened on the day, the author embarks on 100 pages long quest to show that the expeditions which decided to summit on 10 May had in fact received a weather forecast and knew about the storm. In the last part of the book the author trying to rip apart other books on this topic for not being accurate enough.

In this book the author accuses a lot of people who were on the Everest that night of lying & recklessly putting others at risk. It gave me the feeling that he believes leaders of big expeditions had deliberately tried to risk his (the authors) life by asking him to summit on the 11th.

He takes no time to consider any factors that could influence other teams decisions to summit on 10th of May, he does not really try to understand their position. He accuses people who died during that night and who cannot defend or explain their decisions. I'm frankly discussed by this book.

The book is also full of completely irrelevant, self-indulgent & boring stories from the authors past. I'm definitely returning it to a charity shop I got it from- hopefully in this way it will contribute to a good cause.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 May 2015
In an attempt to assuage his own guilt at failing to assist others during Everest's most deadly storm this author sets out to "uncover the truth" about the fateful events leading up to the deadly storm. Radcliffe spends years trying to find evidence to support his belief that both Hall and Fisher knew that the deadly storm was brewing, and discards the multitude of evidence that shoes against this. Ratcliff's point ultimately is that Hall and Fisher were not innocent victims of a rogue storm, rather that they their competitiveness (to run the best outfit/put the most clients on the summit) overcame their good judgement and this is what resulted in so many deaths, including their own.
Finger-pointing and blaming is what Ratcliffe is all about. No doubt he feels that if he can a long enough finger in someone else's direction it will deflect any blame from himself. Could Ratcliffe have rescued anyone that night on 10 May. Sure he could. Why didn't Ratcliffe join in the rescue efforts? According to Ratcliffe, he didn't join in the rescue efforts *because nobody asked him to* . So there Ratcliffe is, up on the South Col, in the middle of a ferocious storm they did, and just about to climb into his tent safe and secure. He pauses at the entrance of the tent and looks out into the darkness to see two blinking headtorch lights a little way in the distance, at 630pm in the evening. To most "intuitive mountaineers" as Ratcliffe likes to describe himself, this would have set alarm bells ringing that help was needed. Not our hero Ratcliffe though - no, he just dives for cover into his tent and spends the next 10 years bemoaning the fact that no-one came to ask him for help ( no-one knew he was there, and he certainly never made his presence known to anyone). The following morning he gets up and within the hour speeds off straight down the mountain without stopping to speak to or check in with anyone about who he had seen wandering round the South Col in the middle of a storm the night before! Perhaps he was concerned that if he didn't high-tail it out of there he might be called on to help anyone in difficulty.
Reading between the lines of this book Ratcliffe shows himself up to be no more than a self-preservationist and a finger-pointer. I felt sickened reading the efforts that he goes to to explan how he was "excluded" from assisting in the rescue efforts. As if he, an experienced mountaineer, really needed to be *personally informed* there were problems that night. Mmmm.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 April 2014
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 want to make some observations.

The story itself is well-written, visceral and clearly comes from a background of significant experience and heartfelt conviction. The notoriety of the two most famous conflicting accounts of the 1996 tragedy on Everest is such that there will always be a tendency to come down on one side or the other. At the risk of giving too much away, this account spends its last third with the author attempting to prove that the storm on the summit - which was the catalyst leading to the loss of life and limb for some of those caught up in it - was actually predicted beforehand by meteorologists and passed on to David Breashears' IMAX film team, and thence to at least one of the lead guides.

The attempt to get to the bottom of this theory is clearly well-intentioned, but the author seems to have a tendency to pick information from third parties that support the theory, while making little or no reference to readily-available material which does not - in particular Breashears' own book (published in 2000) which states categorically that he did not make use of the London Met Office service until after the date of the accident. Prior to that the IMAX team had apparently been relying on Radio Nepal's service. Breashears also states that while the weather was partially responsible for his team's decision to turn back the first time, another equally important consideration was that it was not feasible to film the shots as planned with three other expeditions up beyond the South Col.

Curiously, the author does not seem to make use of this account, instead attempting to query people directly via e-mail - on occasion assuming that when replies have tailed off, this therefore implies something amiss.

Anyway - a very intriguing account from a readers' perspective - but some of the research seems to lack sufficient depth and critical assessment to draw conclusions as bold as it does.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2015
I bought this book expecting an insightful and well written account of the tragic events on Everest. In effect this is an attempt to absolve the author of any blame for the deaths on this mountain. The first 150 pages of this book are what I expected- an account of summit attempts and trips to the region. After the short explanation of what happened on the day the author embarks on 100 pages long quest to show that the expeditions which decided to summit on 10 May had in fact received a weather forecast and knew about the storm. In the last part of the book the author trying to rip apart other books on this topic for not being accurate enough.

In this book the author accuses a lot of people who were on the Everest that night of lying & recklessly putting others at risk. It gave me the feeling that he believes leaders of commercial expeditions had deliberately tried to risk his (the authors) life by asking him to summit on the 11th.

He takes no time to consider any factors that could influence other teams' decisions to summit on 10th of May, he does not really try to understand their position. He accuses people who died during that night and who cannot defend or explain their position.

The book is also full of completely irrelevant, self-indulgent & boring stories from the authors past. I'm definitely returning it to a charity shop I got it from- hopefully this way it will at least contribute to a good cause.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2011
I've read a few of the 1996 Everest books, after starting with Into Thin Air and loving it. This book covers the same ground but from the perspective of someone who was in a third team going up that day, but who survived based on different decision making. There's really only one new point to take out of this book, which I won't spoil should you buy it, but it takes a long time to come out and for long sections I was feeling that it couldn't be worth the wait. It almost isn't...it's not a story-shattering insight, but it does make you question a lot of what you read in the other books, especially Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, which feels partial to say the least as a result of reading this. It's not as well written as some (I could really do without the detail of the linen in every hotel in Kathmandu), but it is genuine, and written with both knowledge and passion. Mid-way through I thought about putting it down, but by the end I was glad I hadn't.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 July 2015
Quite frankly, at the heart of this book, if you can get through the haze of dullness (and at times a grating pompousness), is a very tedious blame game. Having read quite a lot about this sad day in 1996, it seems widely acknowledged that grave and ultimately tragically fatal errors were made and this book proceeds to do that exact same thing - TEDIOUSLY AND RELENTLESSLY. I appreciate the author's commendable summits of Everest himself but am very unclear about what exactly motivated him to write this book - large chunks of his own holidays, of political unrest in Nepal, random ramblings that take you in many directions as an unwilling passenger. It's of the few books I have read where I had to skip though about 10 pages at a time to try and work out where it was actually going, only to be mildly irritated by how often I was doing that. Not sure I can even finish it and I hardly ever leave a book unfinished.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 2014
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. The book is a journey into reminiscences and largely judgements about people. It seems the people ratcliffe meets are either superheroes or not worth his esteem. Also, guilt ridden over the May 10 storm, he asks questions of himself, but doesn't actually answer them. So instead leaves the reader asking questions of his own.

On the whole, not really gripping though had some interesting reflections.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2014
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2014
If you're interested in the story of the 1996 Everest tragedies then other books cover the incident in greater detail. This one feels self-indulgent and becomes self-obsessed for the second half of the book, descending into wildly lurching and arguably irrelevant anecdotes mixed with compulsive rants about who said what, when. It is difficult to care about what the author is so angry about because of the petty and picky delivery of the argument.

The accolades on the cover suggest this would be the chronicling of some deep personal journey but that just doesn't come across at all. Very disappointing.
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