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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Anatoli Boukreev's risposte to Jon Krakauer's account of the disastrous 1996 Everest
debacle 'Into Thin Air' which resulted in the deaths of twelve climbers. The book only
serves to compound the confusion about the catalogue of errors and misjudgements
which took place on the mountain in May that year. Many questions remain unanswered.

Does Boukreev exonerate himself from the criticisms levelled against him? His
account rings true but sadly we will never know the full story of this tragic event.

A gripping and deeply moving book.
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on 28 May 2015
Very interesting read. Aside from towards the end of the book, which is full of what is essentially bickering and counterclaim about the other well-known account of this incident.
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on 26 May 2017
A really good read and an alternative to Into Thin Air.Well put together and a great insight as to really what happened in 1996
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on 11 April 2017
Good buy
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on 23 February 2017
excellent transaction & item
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on 17 July 2017
Great book
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on 24 July 2017
Good read.
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Re-reading the accounts of Everest 1996, I'm getting ready for the new feature film that's due out in cinemas soon. Krakauer's book is the grand-daddy, with its easy writing and interesting approach, but from what I gather in this book and others, his vilification of the Russian guide, Boukreev, is an unfair assessment that has had many chances to be retracted in the light of more facts and research. I'm glad to have read this to not only balance out Krakauer's account, but give a lot more insight to the Mountain Madness expedition led by Scott Fisher.

Basically, deWalt has painstakingly interviewed Boukreev and used recordings of the debriefing by many of the survivors, taken just a few days after the disaster. There's never any finger-pointing per se, but there are clearly issues that all built up and built up to the terrible climax of summit day in May '96.

I really enjoyed getting the background of Fisher's expedition, how Boukreev was recruited and the various preparations they made in getting a commercial expedition off the ground. The acclimatisation procedure and personalities involved, the delays and difficulties with issues like setting up fixed ropes, establishing camps, and battling the weather, not to mention Fisher's frequent distraction by other issues like a Sherpa's illness, Sandy Pittman's radio equipment for her magazine assignment, and presumably, marketing for future expeditions, but I think the bottom line is this: the fierce storm became a great leveller to those who hadn't summited early. The other issues like oxygen levels and cautious/unhelpful sherpas wouldn't have been a problem if the leaders, Hall and Fisher, had set their turnaround time to 2 pm, and stuck with it.

That's so easy to say in hindsight.

The fact that Boukreev, having hunted for people throughout the night and the next day, was awarded the David A. Sowles Memorial Award given by the American Alpine Club for valor, firmly indicating that the mountaineering community thinks that Boukreev deserves acknowledgement for heroic effort, whatever Krakauer intimates to the contrary.

DeWalt's book is very readable and fascinating, and despite perhaps 100 pages of describing the dispute with Krakauer that gets a bit old after a while, there's little mystery left about what happened that day, what Boukreev did, and what a loss it was to mountaineering when he disappeared on Annapurna after an avalanche on Christmas Day, 1997.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 20 September 2013
The fact that there are 68 customer reviews of "The Climb" versus over two hundred of "Into thin air" probably says a lot about the opposite viewpoints provided in each book. Having read Krakauer's book first I can accept that for many it will easily be the better read, simply because he has written extensively on climbing in several books and numerous articles plus has a writing prose style that communicates well the drama of events plus English is his first language.

However as I said in my Amazon review of Krakauer's book,("Why commercialising of high altitude mountain guides is fatal!"), I felt that he had passed over too many of the key lessons and issues around the tragic events in March 1996. The detailed analysis and especially the second half of this book make clear this is a point by point rebuttal of the case put by Krakauer and for me it is a convincing analysis and response but not an easily read book.

In addition it is esssentially a two handed response as it reflects the comments and views of Bourkeev, an ambitious high altitude climber who after losing the unlimited state support of the USSR with its political collapse did mountain guide roles as a needed method of financing further climbs. English is clearly not his first language and co-author DeWalt's role is not just that of translator but also detective in piecing all the evidence in English that Bourkeev could not understand but also cross examining his statements and interviews to ensure it all fitted and matched up.

The book is thus primarily Bourkeev's thoughts and memories plus his philosophy on high altitude climbing rather than the wider landscape of the whole venture provided by Krakauer and when it comes to the climb has much more specificity on what happened in his team and the final tragic events. My reading of the book sadly leaves Krakauer's version of events being shown as lacking - given he was so out of the command chain as the final push to the summit occurred and especially in his own immediate descent afterwards where he was lucky to make it back to camp as the storm started to hit the two teams who summitted that day.

As with all such post tragedy analysis the matter inevitably comes down to one single key event which is Bourkeev's role in his team and the instructions and working practices being followed by him with his team leader, Scott Fisher, on the peak of Everest. With the agreement of Fisher, he would descend to camp to rest and come back later to help others descend which is the area that Krakauer argued as Bourkeev's failings even though he was not a full participant in them. The book probably is guilty of overkill on this area but sadly it seems Krakauer's actions post the tragedy in DeWalt's eyes (given Bourkeev died in an avalanche just as the book was finished) justify his taking the second half of the book to point by point respond to the later accusations and statements made, including the full and lengthy transcript of the post mortem debate taped at Everest Base Camp by many of the surviving participants in the few days after the tragedy.

What the book reaffirms is that being a guide to less experienced climbers at such high altitudes will never be easy and the ability to help them when bad health or weather hits may be very limited. Yet it is interesting to note that the chapter of Bourkeev leading an Indonesian army team to the summit of Everest the following year shows the disciplines that need to be followed to avoid further disasters happening. Recent magazine articles in 2013 about the Nepalese authorities intending to enforce more control after fights between different teams in the prior year in which 234 people reached Everest's summit in one single day (!) show the issue has not receded since the tragedy covered in this book.
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on 22 July 2016
I have read this book over five days and gripped from the start. It provided a fascinating insight into the world of extreme mountaineering, tinged with wonder and sadness, I couldn't put it down.
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