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Publisher's Summary

A thrilling chronicle of the tragedy-ridden history of climbing K2, the world's most difficult and unpredictable mountain, by the best-selling author of No Shortcuts to the Top.

At 28,251 feet, the world's second-tallest mountain, K2 thrusts skyward out of the Karakoram Range of northern Pakistan. Climbers regard it as the ultimate achievement in mountaineering, with good reason. Four times as deadly as Everest, K2 has claimed the lives of 77 climbers since 1954.

In August 2008, 11 climbers died in a single 36-hour period on K2 - the worst single-event tragedy in the mountain's history and the second-worst in the long chronicle of mountaineering in the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges. Yet summiting K2 remains a cherished goal for climbers from all over the globe.

Before he faced the challenge of K2 himself, Ed Viesturs, one of the world's premier high-altitude mountaineers, thought of it as "the holy grail of mountaineering". In K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain, Viesturs explores the remarkable history of the mountain and of those who have attempted to conquer it. At the same time he probes K2's most memorable sagas in an attempt to illustrate the lessons learned by confronting the fundamental questions raised by mountaineering - questions of risk, ambition, loyalty to one's teammates, self-sacrifice, and the price of glory.

Viesturs knows the mountain firsthand. He and renowned alpinist Scott Fischer climbed it in 1992 and were nearly killed in an avalanche that sent them sliding to almost certain death. Fortunately, Ed managed to get into a self-arrest position with his ice ax and stop both his fall and Scott's.

Focusing on seven of the mountain's most dramatic campaigns, from his own troubled ascent to the 2008 tragedy, Viesturs crafts an edge-of-your-seat narrative that climbers and armchair travelers alike will find unforgettably compelling. With photographs from Viesturs's personal colle...

©2009 Ed Viesturs and David Roberts; (P)2009 Random House

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • Story

My first foray into mountaineering history

Would you listen to K2 again? Why?

Maybe. It was a fascinating story, especially since I didn't know much about mountaineering beforehand and was way more familiar with Mt. Everest. There were a lot of wisdom gems about living life.

What did you like best about this story?

I like learning about the history of nearly anything, but I had never read about the history of mountaineering before. Seeing "Everest" in 2015 piqued my interest in other 8000ers, and after researching a bit, I figured this book would be a good entrance into the subject, and I was right. I liked how Viesturs writing made everything understandable and relatable. Given how lazy I tend to be, I didn't expect to see myself in any of the climbers he mentioned, but surprisingly, I did; I found I could empathize quite a bit.

Which character – as performed by Fred Sanders – was your favorite?

None

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • JJ
  • 12-30-15

Almost Makes You Want to Climb K2... Almost

Would you consider the audio edition of K2 to be better than the print version?

I've never ready to print version so I can't be sure. Either way, the audio version is excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of K2?

It's hard to identify a single moment. Hearing about all the difficult circumstances while climbing the mountain is what makes the book so riveting. You learn the history of K2 and get firsthand perspective on how difficult and scary it is to actually climb it. In my opinion, better (and safer) than climbing it yourself.

What about Fred Sanders’s performance did you like?

Sander's does a solid job in narrating this book. I don't know what Ed Viesturs sounds like in person, but Sanders made me believe that Viesturs was talking to me in my car every day.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes and no. The story was fascinating but the historical spread and detail had my head swirling at different points. The desire was there but the will was weak.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating!

Great account of the mountain's history and awesome performance by the narrator. It's definitely a must for any mountaineering enthusiast.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven
  • Louisville, KY, United States
  • 01-20-15

Great!!!!

Unbelievable stories. Very interesting and amazing ventures . A great book to listen to very well narrated. Will listen to it again

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Facinating and educational!

Clear headed, well balanced writing that includes historical story telling about this facinating mountain and the human persuits of climbing it from beginning. Ed's personal endevours are painted with a humble and realistic touch that leaves me full of awe and respect of the natures wonders (in this case the awsome K2). Also that the human ego has no place in it.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Bradley
  • ROSEVILLE, CA, United States
  • 04-10-13

Good book

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

A good book on K2 from the point of history and climber prospective. I would read it again.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

good close

Which scene was your favorite?

The summary of the 2008 tragedy

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

no

Any additional comments?

no

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dogmother
  • MANTEO, NC, United States
  • 10-07-12

Interesting story!

If you could sum up K2 in three words, what would they be?

The three words I would use to sum up K2 would be interesting, tragic and technical.

What about Fred Sanders’s performance did you like?

He has a nice voice for narrating books and was easy to listen to.

Any additional comments?

The book was interesting overall, but I felt that the book was more about the mistakes made rather than the drama of the events on K2. It wasn't quite the story I expected, but it was a good one, nonetheless. I suspect that if I knew more about climbing mountains, it would be more exciting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Well written and researched

I like mountain climbing books. My husband does not. His attitude is that if you have read one you have read them all. "We climbed a mountain and then it all went to hell." The more I thought about it, the more I agree with him but I don't care. I still like mountain climbing books and this was one of the better ones. Worth the credit.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great listen for climbers & non-climbers.

Everest gets all the hype but K2 has always been where climbers go to prove themself. Great narration of the history of triumphs and tradgedies on mountain climbings "holy grail".

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great book giving the history of K2

I have read this book and now listened to it. I love the way Ed and Dave tell the story of so many adventures on the worlds 2nd highest peak. I recommend Ed and Daves book about Annapurna. It reads a lot like this, but tells stories of adventures you would never believe possible

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  • Colette
  • 07-31-10

Superb

Loved it!! I've read a lot of books on climbing, and thought I knew quite a lot about K2, but this told me so much I didn't know, plus a re-interpretation of previous climbs from Visteurs' personal experience. Fascinating and well written. Could hardly bear to put it down/switch it off. Will get his other book now in the hope its just as good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • D7Soay
  • 01-24-16

Excellent history of climbing K to

This book has brought together many other books and shown in Monbulk the total history of planning and Kate to the ups and downs and she again year of this Mt even Liberty the tenants mother few women that tempted to climb gay K2 The awful danger and reliability of the mountains and many well-known climbers the used different techniques alpine Everest hell solo without oxygen et cetera
The fact that ratio what are use this matter has highest attempt to death rate in the hole because Emily is good history good read and brings together many famous books go together into one good read. As exclaim I enjoyed it thoroughly and hope that people will take something away from it to especially the joy of climbing on the challenge you face

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • D. J. Pritchard
  • 11-08-15

Fascinating chronicle of the difficulties of K2

Possibly a little self centered but nevertheless the thoroughness of the research needed to give such an enlightening insight into the challenges and tragedies of K2 can only be applauded. I was hooked from the moment I started listening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Baz P
  • 10-16-15

Gripping and Fascinating

I loved this audio book. It is gripping and thoroughly interesting but in a non-sensationalist or glorifying way. It is honest and heart felt with genuine opinion. It describes many feelings and sentiments that I can easily imagine given the descriptive accounts. excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan
  • 04-10-15

k2

well read with tons of detail and theory a well researched book , enjoyed it very much

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Reece
  • 03-24-17

Excellent mountaineering book

Great compilation of K2 history. Viesturs gives his own viewpoint whilst summarising some of the most significant K2 expeditions.

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  • Jim Wilson
  • 03-13-17

Absolutely brilliant

A true insight into the incredible world of the 8000m climber, an incredibly well explained account of the challenges K2 presents and the minds and motivation of those who try to climb it.

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  • Andrew
  • 08-22-14

It's so dull I didn't get past 40 mins

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Someone who already knows a lot about mountaineering, K2 specifically, and is familiar with the stories around those who have successfully made the journey as well as those who did not.

What was most disappointing about Ed Viesturs and David Roberts ’s story?

You need to be an expert in the topic already - if you're not (I'm not) then it quickly sounds like meaningless base camp codes, altitudes, names and years. The author refers to his own expertise enough times that it just comes across as self-flagellation and an 'I wouldn't have done it like that' approach to the stories of those who died trying to conquer K2.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes, unfortunately

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from K2?

I wasn't interested enough to listen any longer. I don't think I even got past chapter 1 of 8.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Giancarlo
  • 03-15-12

K2 Droppings

A boring self congratulary account of one mans ego trip. Occasionally interesting. Mostly bottom dribble...

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Travis
  • 05-28-16

great

I loved the narration and the in depth descriptions used but did repeat a little