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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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on 18 September 2012
Although not a bad read until about half way through when he starts harping on about weather forecasts, I still felt deceived and ripped-off by this book.
When all is said and done it seems to me that Graham Ratcliffe just happened to be in the vicinity when this tragedy occured and the day after, while he decended to safety, a lot of the people on the Imax team whose character and reputations he later questions ascended to do what they could to help out.
In fact nearly all the speculation and accusation about the weather that Ratcliffe uses to cast doubt upon the intentions of the Imax team can be dismissed by reading one paragraph of Anatoli Boukreev's book "The Climb"
On page 138 of that book, Boukreev, who was Scott Fischer's head guide on Everest, tells how as he was going up the Lhotse Face he encountered Ed Viesturs of the Imax team coming down. Viesturs tells Boukreev that they didn't like the look of the weather, that it was too unstable and that they were going to hang back for a few days to see if the weather would stabilize. Hardly the actions of a man keeping his knowledge of the weather secret and sending others up the mountain into danger.
In 1996 weather forecasts could not and were not relied upon. Everybody knows that.
As for the people who died? Although tragic, if you choose to climb Everest as a guide or a client there is a very good chance that you'll loose your life. Everybody knows that as well.
There probably was pressure on Rob Hall and Scott Fischer to get their clients to the summitt and that probably did affect their decision making but to suggest they were ruthless enough to knowingly send Ratcliffe's team up into a storm is a disgusting slur on these men. (Although if Ratcliffe is half as irritating in real life as he appears to be in this book it's a wonder they didn't invite him to climb with them and then shove him down the kangshung face when nobody was looking)
From what I can gather from all the literature that I've read on this subject Rob Hall died because he refused to leave a struggling client (Albeit one he had maybe encouraged to go on when he was apparently wavering)and Scott Fischer probably died because he wasn't really well enough to climb to the summitt that day but he felt duty bound to do so.
I didn't mind parting with my hard earned cash for "Into thin air" or "The climb" both interesting first hand accounts but it really grieves me to think some of my money has gone into this man's pocket.
Graham Ratcliffe's book is called "A day to die for. One survivor's personal journey to uncover the truth" In my opinion a more accurate title would be "Clutching at straws. One bloke who happened to be in the vicinity's shameless attempt to cash in on the disaster"
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on 8 June 2016
Loved the descriptions of getting to Everest, and climbing the mountain itself. The fascinating in depth and long research into the 1996 threw thrown up what is most likely to be the cause of the accident, that business overcame professional judgement. When compared to other main accounts I have read, Into Thin Aire, The Climb etc, as Graham has said, the elephant in the room, in this case the weather has been missed, and perhaps conclusions as to the cause of the disaster might have been concluded years before if this had not been the case.
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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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on 12 June 2011
Like many people who have already commented on this book, I have also previously read more than one account of the 1996 disaster, including Into Thin Air and Everest: Mountain Without Mercy.

Jon Krakauer's account was the first I read, and I've since re-read it several times. For me that is a heartfelt book filled with raw emotion, written by a masterful journalist who also possesses the rare quality of knowing when to admit his own mistakes. I believe Into Thin Air is a brutally honest and extremely emotionally-charged description of an unspeakable tragedy that almost took the author's own life, and resulted in the death of a number of people he had come to regard as friends.

What those people went through on the upper slopes of Everest that day is beyond the realms of comprehension. Graham Ratcliffe, as a man who had summitted Everest the previous year and was on the South Col during the night of the tragedy on 10 May 1996, should know that better than anyone.

Huge mistakes were made on Everest that spring, there is no doubt about that. Had they not been made and people had acted with better judgement, a large number of those who perished would have come back alive. There is no disputing that either.

What really troubles me about this book is that Ratcliffe seems to take great delight in his ability to uncover these mistakes a decade after they had taken place. He writes with unmistakable glee about uncovering that Rob Hall and Scott Fischer had known in advance that the storm was approaching, yet did nothing to alter their plans or warn fellow climbers. Without doubt this is key information, but Ratcliffe's shameless self-promotion of his investigative skills (he labours on about them for approximately half of this book) is an embarrassment.

He was one of the lucky who ones who climbed into the storm on 10 May 1996 and returned home safely to tell the tale. Maybe he should have thought about the significance of that before trying to attach blame for the tragic to as many people as possible, dead and alive.

Rob Hall and Scott Fischer made some unexplainable decisions that day which they paid for with their lives, and the lives of others who followed their instructions, but that is not new information.

The only thing I learned from this book is that Graham Ratcliffe spent around five years digging around for some small shreds of information that would further smear the already tarnished names of the dead, then spend over 300 pages slapping himself on the back for it.

Don't even get me started on the shameful amount of words he spends criticising other authors who failed to uncover the same information he had.

One of the most self-indulgent and worst books I have ever picked up.
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on 15 October 2015
The first half of the book is mildly interesting, However the "hidden and explosive truths" that are revealed later on in the book add very little to the tragic story surrounding the 1996 Everest disaster and are based on a small amount of factual evidence and a huge amount of circumstantial/assumed evidence to form any meaningful conclusion. The book comes across more of a selfish attempt to absolve the author of any guilt for not acting when he saw headlights returning from the summit at an unusual hour. The author is very unlikable, self centered and rather than provoking any thoughts with regards to the actions surrounding the disaster you find yourself feeling sorry for his wife the whole time. The whole "investigation" of the weather forecast issue seems almost completely pointless, OK there were forecasts being received and these may or may not have been interpreted wrongly but the point remains that had the turn around time of 1-2 p.m been enforced on 10th May the storm would not have had the tragic consequences it did (this is clearly the case as climbers that left the summit at or around 2 pm were able to return to camp without being impacted by the weather). The author has studied the various accounts of the disaster that exist, looked for a potential new angle on which to create and plug a book about himself and tried to generate a distorted impact of the fact that the weather forecasts were being received. The book is terribly written and were it not for the fact that I was continually waiting for him to get to the point and make a balanced and justifiable conclusion I would have given up long before the end of this book...sadly that justifiable conclusion never arrives!!
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on 4 April 2014
I love controversy, not to mention a conspiracy and this book seems to divide the climbing community and armchair adventurers alike.

Massive mistakes in judgement were made on Everest during the spring of 96, of that there is little doubt and climbers paid with their lives. But was Ratcliffe’s smaller expedition stitched up by the big boys of commercial mountaineering? Did they have information on the forthcoming weather patterns and were they willing to let others climb into a storm giving their paying clients a great chance of summiting?

The author has written a tenaciously researched account of the events that took place that spring, the conspiracy of silence surrounding the tragedy and his journey to find the truth and some peace of mind.

Ultimately he lets the reader make up their own mind and as the two main characters that made those critical decisions are dead it can all only be speculation…..
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on 3 April 2011
A Day To Die For: 1996: Everest's Worst Disaster - The Untold True Story
A wonderful book. The story of one man's tenacity to get to the truth about the 1996 disaster. He was there and knows. Graham writes naturally and simply and pulls you in to the story. Ignore the 1 star spoilers and READ it yourself. Angela
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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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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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