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Ghosts of K2: The Race for the Summit of the World's Most Deadly Mountain Paperback – 5 May 2016
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‘Only unbridled ambition is going to get you up K2. And the stories of the early attempts and the eventual success illustrate the complexity of the mountain and the climbers who chose to risk it all. Ghosts of K2 brings them back to life.’(Peter Edmund Hillary – mountaineer, expedition leader, philanthropist and author)
‘Mick Conefrey relates the often unedifying, occasionally heroic saga leading to its first ascent with great panache and lucid analysis of little-known material. A significant contribution to mountaineering historical writing.’(Jim Perrin – award-winning author of The Villain: The Life of Don Whillans and Snowdon: The Story of a Welsh Mountain)
‘Mick Conefrey judiciously and lucidly unravels this tangled tale of courage and conflict. And he displays once again... a consummate ability to tell a ripping good climbing yarn.’(Maurice Isserman – co-author of Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes)
From the Back Cover
At 28,251 ft, K2 might be almost 800 ft shorter than Everest, but it’s a far harder climb. It will kill you on the way up and the way down. In this definitive account, Mick Conefrey grippingly describes the early attempts to reach the summit and provides a fascinating exploration of the first ascent’s complex legacy. Beginning with the ill-fated efforts of drug-addicted occultist Aleister Crowley, The Ghosts of K2 charts how a slew of great men became fixated by this legendary mountain. There was the wealthy Italian Duke of Abruzzi; Fritz Wiessner, the man who revolutionised climbing in the USA; the brilliant but tortured expedition leader Charlie Houston; and Achille Compagnoni and Lindo Lacedelli, the Italian duo who finally became the first to make it all the way to the top. For each of them K2 became an obsession and it brought not one of them happiness.
Through exclusive interviews with surviving team members and their families, and unrivalled access to diaries and letters that have been archived around the world, Conefrey evokes the true atmosphere of the ‘Savage Mountain’ and explores why it remains the ‘mountaineer’s mountain’, despite a history steeped in controversy and death. Wrought with tension, and populated by tragic heroes and eccentric dreamers, The Ghosts of K2 is a masterpiece of mountaineering literature.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
mountain in the World is an absorbing read. From the earliest by Aleister (The Great Beast)
Crowley and Oscar Eckenstein in 1902 to its eventual conquest by Achille Compagnoni
and Lino Laccedelli (my mother went to school with him!) in 1954, the multiple stories of
bravery, foolhardiness, tragedy and the eventual summiting is never less than thrilling.
It is particularly interesting to see a detailed account of the bitter dispute which arose
between Compagnoni/Lacedelli and Walter Bonatti and Amir Medhi following their successful
bid (an acrimonious saga which simmered and seethed for several decades afterwards!)
This is a book which brings alive the experiences of men who put their lives at risk to attain
that rarest of experiences : to be the first to stand atop the Earth's most dangerous mountain.
I did get more interested with the 1954 Italian expedition part in the final quarter, but then Conefrey failed to convince me why he should conclude against the Bonatti version, or at least that was my understanding of his conclusion
And everything is like that with Conefrey. Last year when interviewed by Leonardo Bizzaro, from La Republica, Conefrey stated that he merely limited himself to state that Compagnoni and Lacedelli had not lied about the oxygen, which is very far from the “story” he wrote in his book. The Italian journalist was not fooled by Conefrey as he ended his paper by stating:
“And then, this man who lives in Oxford but knows well Italy, smiled and did not say what he wanted to say: “If it had been British alpinists, such chaos would never have happened.”
Offending Walter Bonatti's memory, Erich Abram who at 93 is the sole survivor, the Australian Robert Marshall, the Italian climbers and the climbing community at large is a very impressive achievement, but if there is a story which is really "flawed" it is Conefrey's.
If you want to know about the history of the 1rst ascent of K2, run away from that book, read one written by a true historian, who “checked” his facts. Of the latest, I would recommend Richard Sale’s The Challenge of K2: A History of The Savage Mountain (2012 - Pen & Sword Books Ltd) and if you want to know about Bonatti and his K2 story read Walter Bonatti The Mountains of My Life (Penguin Classics 2010) beautifully translated by Robert Marshall.
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