18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
'Untold Story'? Nope, misleading title,
This review is from: A Day to Die For: 1996: Everest's Worst Disaster - One Survivor's Personal Journey to Uncover the Truth (Paperback)There's no doubt that Graham Ratcliffe is an accomplished climber, and some sections of this book are well-written and interesting to read as observations on a mountaineer's life. It is however a self-indulgent, overly long and poorly-edited book which fails entirely to live up to the promise of its title.
Having taken a lot of words to get to the events of May 1996, one enormous hole in the credibility of this book rapidly becomes clear. Ratcliffe's observations about what happened on the mountain that day rely almost entirely on other people's accounts - by his own admission, he was sleeping in a tent on the South Col ready for a summit push the following day, and most of the victims were probably already dead by the time he awoke after the storm. Apart from being there and having met most of the people involved, his personal experience adds nothing whatsoever to other accounts. He then talks about the guilt that he has felt ever since about what more he might have done to save people on Everest. In fact, it's obvious that there was very little that anyone could have done to conduct a rescue in the circumstances and so his soul-searching ends up seeming rather more like an after-the-facts justification for his search for the causes.
The several tedious chapters that the author then devotes to his research are what really left me feeling cheated. He implies that other climbers who were there subsequently neglected to respond to his questions and frustrated his efforts, when in fact they were clearly smart enough to realise that he was researching another "me too" cash-in tome with a contrived new angle, long after the events. Ratcliffe's conclusion - that access to high-altitude weather forecasts was a key to the downfall of the Hall and Fisher expeditions - just ended up leaving me thinking "so what?" As you can tell, it also left me feeling increasingly cynical about his reasons for publishing this book.
This 'revelation' makes no difference at all to the general conclusion that the loss of life could have probably been avoided if climbers had been made to stick strictly to their turn-around times. The fact that Krakauer summitted and (just) got back safely to his tent safely despite the weather was evidence of this - but then we knew that as soon as 'Into Thin Air' was published. Ratcliffe's arguments are very flimsy at best.
It baffles me that anyone who has read any of the other well-known accounts of these tragic events - especially the compelling 'Into Thin Air' - should review this book favourably, let alone give it five stars. Krakauer and Boukreev's books are far more illuminating, focused and coherent, and while they disagree on some points of detail they were at least written by members of one of the teams involved who climbed with all of the victims and had a good idea of where they were when the storm hit. Ratcliffe simply wasn't, and no amount of padding out, and theorizing in hindsight, can change this fact.
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Initial post: 14 Feb 2013 11:39:29 GMT
Joe, [ Simpson ] I presume, if not so what. You weren't there, Graham Ratcliffe was. He seached for the truth. Some writers write for money. I know which I prefer.
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