Not sure what drew me to this book, I think i may of picked it up after reading a fictional story about an Everest disaster. Needless to say the real life story while less detail is there (hard to get details about what happened from a dead person) the story feels a bit more real as you read the mental anguish the survivor goes through. The book details the author’s presence at Mount Everest during the 1996 disaster, when eight climbers were killed and several others were stranded by a “rogue storm”. there were several groups trying to summit on the same day
Our story starts with a description of this mans life and the events that led him to be sent to chronicle a summit attempt for the magazine he writes for.Much like every other attempt at Everest it isn’t just get to base camp and then climb to the top. There are a series of acclimatization climbs to several of the lower camps to get everyone’s body used to lower atmospheric pressure. Already we the reader discover just how difficult a climb is as that at these lower camps we already read about climbers getting struck down with illness due to oxygen deprivation, over exposure to UV and numerous other ails.
After numerous acclimatization runs, finally they are working their way to the top and have a good spout of weather but now we discover some of the events that lead to so many deaths. Several groups climbing at once lead to some bottle necks, Guides going off ahead of their group, In the planning stages of the climbs a turn back time is set up. On summit day once an agreed upon time is reached everyone turns back no matter where they are to ensure they make it back safely. This time came and went and was ignored by some. Then the nasty weather rolls in.
Oxygen deprivation can make it hard for the person to think and so the next few hours there is a lot of uncertainty. The author acknowledges that there a several moments when his actions inadvertently led to the deaths of others. For starters he mistakenly identifies an individual in-front of him as another member of the party. So when they are doing a head count they mistaking agree that man is here when in fact he is still lost. Had they gone out looking they may of found him who knows. There is also the incident of the author discovering some fellow climbers in a real bad shape. Numerous documentaries about high altitude climbing always talk about making the call and leaving a man behind if they are too far gone and that’s all well and good in theory but i think in practice that must be a hard thing to deal with. The Author makes the call to leave a fellow climber where they were lying as to help them would result in his death. The climber left behind did in fact die
Events like this take us the reader on a powerful journey through the mind of the climber especially as this one comes to terms with the events that happened up there. I guess what was made worse was another survivor in their own book made some comments that contradicted what was said in this book. The author does clarify and reject some of those point in the back half of the book. which just highlights how little is known for sure about the events up there.
The book also had some pictures in there as well, and while reading what was occurring anytime i’d read about the death or someone was lost id flick to the pictures and find one of them. kind of made it seem more real if that makes sense.
I’m not a huge fan of journalists or the media for that matter they always warp a story to what attracts readers and sometimes that alters the truth about events. but none the less this was a great read and surprisingly not too egotistical from a journalist