If David Sharp's death was shocking, it was not singular: despite unusually good weather, ten others died attempting to reach the summit that year.
In this meticulous inquiry into what went wrong, Nick Heil tells the full story of the deadliest year on Everest since the infamous season of 1996. He introduces Russell Brice, the outfitter who has done more than anyone to provide access to the summit via the mountain's north side---and who some believe was partially responsible for Sharp's death. As more climbers attempt the summit each year, Heil shows how increasingly risky expeditions and unscrupulous outfitters threaten to turn Everest into a deadly circus.
Written by an experienced climber and outdoor writer, Dark Summit is both a riveting account of a notorious climbing season and a troubling investigation into whether the pursuit of the ultimate mountaineering prize has spiraled out of control.
©2008 Nick Heil; (P)2008 Tantor
"Here is humanity itself, personified in exemplary fashion by Nick Heil, addressing the Everest culture's lack of compassion and coming up with the right answers." (Bob Shacochis, author of The Immaculate Invasion)
Through rock-solid reporting and vital prose, Heil leads us up into this rarefied world, step by hypoxic step." (Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers)
I liked this book, and thought it to be a good summary of the issues & controversies of the 2006 Everest expeditions. The author does a good job of helping you to understand the challenges that climbers face, and the growing problem that commercialization is creating -- that is, drawing people who have the money to attend an expedition but not the training, experience and mindset of what is needed to conquer Everest. It seems that Everest is drawing unqualified people for the purpose of achieving a personal goal, having "bragging rights" or ego. And although many train for months to develop the physical stamina, the lack of experience -- and also common sense due to the high altitude -- is sometimes fatal.
In the end, the author helps you to understand the perspectives of the clients and the expeditions leaders. And then there's the mountain itself. Make no mistake, it's not a game or fun recreational activity. Anyone who travels to Everest should consider the very real possibility that you may not return, no matter how well you think you are prepared.
Note that there is some language in a few places throughout the work. It's not excessive, but be prepared for it.
Also, I thought the narrator did a good job as well.
After reading Jon Krakauer's classic account of the 1996 Everest climbing season, I was hooked on all things Everest.
After watching both seasons of Everest: Beyond the Limit, I wanted a book that would explore the tragedies of the 2006 season and I found it in Dark Summit.
The book is well-written and evenhanded; it gives coverage to ExplorersWeb and Russell Brice's point of view.
Someone looking for a straightforward recounting of this tragic season should seriously consider this book.
The narration by David Drummond is spot-on perfect. Great voice, great timing and consistent accents give voice to all the major players in the book.
I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY ( true) - Dark Summit is the story of those who risk their lives to climb to the "Roof of the World." It begins with a history of Mt. Everest and then moves to the controversial 2006 season, which claimed more deaths than any previous season. The book covers multiple expeditions with climbers from all over the world. It's often difficult to remember who's who, but it doesn't detract from the story.
These people climb dangerous icy slopes at temps of 50 below zero with high winds and low visibility. Often they are trapped on the mountain for days while waiting for a storm to pass and then must make their way down the mountain starving, dehydrated and numb. They are outfitted in space-type suits for warmth and must wear masks to provide supplemental oxygen -- but only a small amount that can be carried without difficulty. Even with proper rationing of oxygen, it's usually not enough, and low oxygen levels make each step extremely laborious. Most climbers' brains are barely functional, yet they are making life-and-death decisions that affect themselves and others. Many suffer from cerebral and pulmonary edema, frostbite and snowblindness. You will hear of the increasing number of climbers with handicaps or little experience who flounder and cause bottlenecks on the mountain, as others freeze while waiting for their turn to pass through an area. You will hear an account of one man who froze to death as other climbers simply passed him by on their way to the summit. Another was left dying but managed somehow to survive. The author discusses whether this is due to lack of compassion or selfish ambition of other climbers. He also tells stories of heroic and successful rescues.
Why are so many people attracted to Everest? How has it become so commercialized? After all, the cost for all this fun is up to $100,000 per person. And the payoff? If they are lucky enough to stay alive and if they time their "summit push" perfectly, they will enjoy a few brief minutes at the top of the world before survival demands that they start back down the mountain. All I can say is "Wow."
PERFORMANCE - Good job, but not a difficult performance.
OVERALL - Recommended for anyone who thinks this topic sounds interesting. Some F-words in tense situations.
STRANGE COINCIDENCE: I was listening to this on 4-18-14 when an avalanche claimed the lives of 13 sherpas, the worst single day in the history of Mt. Everest.
I heard about this book while listening to the podcast "Macbreak Weekly" and am very glad that I listened. Prior to hearing this I knew nothing about mountain climbing or the history of Mount Everest for that matter.
The book is very well read and I did not find that the book dragged at any point. I would have liked a little more information on a few of the climbers, but that is a very minor complaint. I highly recommend this book and especially if you are like me who knew nothing of it before hand.
The author writes a thorough, unbiased account of the 2006 ascent on Everest. For those who have read about the 1996 tragedies on Everest, you will be interested in how the 2006 year proved so deadly, even though there were no major weather obstacles to overcome. The author does a fine job of balancing the description of the climb, along with the background information of what goes into a climb, with the intense drama of human peril during the descent. As I listened to the book, I had many questions that the author addressed, including how to reduce the number of deaths on the mountain. But one question, that the author couldn't answer, is what I would do in that situation? Powerful moral questions are presented and, as much as you think you would do the "right thing," the author makes it clear that, in most cases, there is no one "right thing" that can be done. The ethical dilemmas are haunting for the reader and much more so for the actual climbers. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.
The narrator also does a superb job, including spot on accents. Between the author's writing style and the narrator's accents, I had no trouble keeping the long list of characters straight, which is sometimes a challenge for me with audiobooks.
By the time of this writing, I can say that I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it. When I first began to listen, I was distracted by what I perceived as a mismatch between the styles of narration and text. The narrator enunciates each word clearly with what I would call 'brisk' emphasis on syllables and words. This style, when combined with the detailed information and factual background given by the author, gave me the sense that I was listening to a textbook. Thus, when the author used descriptive phrases, the use of adjectives seemed superfluous and 'flowery' when read in the brisk style of the narrator. In fact, I wasn't sure that I would continue to listen, as I had just spent new credits and was looking forward to new books. The longer I listened, however, the less distracted I was. I found myself engaged in the story, appreciating the talents of the narrator, particularly in the accents and voices he brought to the characters. I have since listened twice, and am glad that I did so. I believe that my initial reaction was simply due to the fact that the last few books to which I listened had narrators with different intonation and emphasis on words, and that I simply needed to relax and appreciate the unique talents of this narrator.
As a reader of all books Everest I felt could jump into this book with both feet but I was wrong. The author bounces from the 2006 tragedy to the 1996 tragedy and then back to the 1920s. His attempts to intertwine the history of finding Everest, measuring it, climbing it and dying on it falls flat on the listener. Anyone knows a book about Everest will contain a ton of charaters but its up to the author to make the book flow through to the end. Narration was fine but the book was lacking some "flow"
The author really goes in depth throughout the history, the internal human desires to push themselves into unknown realms, and the tragedies that can and quite often do befall those who tempt to climb the highest peaks in the world.
I burned through this book in two days it was so good!
No I would not, it is to sad!
Having wintered over in Antarctica in 1990 with a military expedition for 13 months on the ice, I can relate to the cold temperatures these climbers endured and died in. However, I cannot even begin to imagine the oxygen problems of high altitude existence. This book is not a glory bound testament to those you have conquered the mountain elements but a sad story of those you failed in their attempts to achieve something that really means nothing in the end. In 2012 the graveyard expanded another 12 bodies with a total of 200 to-date and the the crowd will be waiting in 2013 to make their bid for the roof, we can only hope that no matter how far they ascend they make it to the basement in the end. "making it to the top is optional, making it back down is mandatory".
One of the best books I've listened to!
Such an interesting book.
Very well written!
Kept me on the edge og my seat!
"Not all who walk in clouds are angels."
Whoever came up with questions for this review was an idiot.
This is a non-fiction narrative about life and death on the top of the world. About dying alone, selfishness and selflessness, bad luck and despair, good omens and lucky escapes. It is an amazing piece of storytelling.
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