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In one of the most deadly events in Himalayan climbing, 11 climbers died on K2 in August, 2008. In One Mountain Thousand Summits: The Untold Story Tragedy and True Heroism on K2, climber and writer Freddie Wilkinson captures the details of this event. This gripping tale is based on interviews with the western climbers and the 4 Sherpa guides who survived the accident. Sign In one of the most deadly events in Himalayan climbing, 11 climbers died on K2 in August, 2008. In One Mountain Thousand Summits: The Untold Story Tragedy and True Heroism on K2, climber and writer Freddie Wilkinson captures the details of this event. This gripping tale is based on interviews with the western climbers and the 4 Sherpa guides who survived the accident. Signed by the author.


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In one of the most deadly events in Himalayan climbing, 11 climbers died on K2 in August, 2008. In One Mountain Thousand Summits: The Untold Story Tragedy and True Heroism on K2, climber and writer Freddie Wilkinson captures the details of this event. This gripping tale is based on interviews with the western climbers and the 4 Sherpa guides who survived the accident. Sign In one of the most deadly events in Himalayan climbing, 11 climbers died on K2 in August, 2008. In One Mountain Thousand Summits: The Untold Story Tragedy and True Heroism on K2, climber and writer Freddie Wilkinson captures the details of this event. This gripping tale is based on interviews with the western climbers and the 4 Sherpa guides who survived the accident. Signed by the author.

30 review for One Mountain Thousand Summits: The Untold Story Tragedy and True Heroism on K2

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    I started climbing at age 17 and love to read books about climbing trips, I have to say this is about the worst book about climbing or just about any topic I've ever read. The author has no talent for writing. The author is a pack rat who included every bit of trivia he learned that was even slightly related to K2. Someone has a sister who's a very good student, 2nd in her class. A mouse was found at base camp, several paragraphs. Uncles, cousins, grandmothers, anyone slightly related to the story I started climbing at age 17 and love to read books about climbing trips, I have to say this is about the worst book about climbing or just about any topic I've ever read. The author has no talent for writing. The author is a pack rat who included every bit of trivia he learned that was even slightly related to K2. Someone has a sister who's a very good student, 2nd in her class. A mouse was found at base camp, several paragraphs. Uncles, cousins, grandmothers, anyone slightly related to the story is included. The most annoying aspect of the book is his style of flash forward or back 2 to 100+ years. So many times 2+ pages is spent talking about another time and place. He talks about Queen Elizabeth's coronation, trips to the north & south poles 100+ years ago. Hillary's climb of Everest in 1953. He assumes the reader has no knowledge of history and acts like most of what happened in the last century came to a head on the day this group summited K2. I guess you could call that focus. But it's a totally disjointed narration. I have another 50 pages to go, I'm hoping it'll be worth it, but reading this book is a tiresome exercise... Just looked at someone elses review, the ending is even worse than the the beginning & middle. I have to ask myself, why do I have the compulsion to finish a book that isn't worth it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alfheidur

    Thoughtful review of the tragedy on K2 in 2008. Provides the backstory of the climbing sherpas and a thorough analysis of the events on the mountain. Most importantly, good discussion on the direction of the sport of mountaineering when people are being paid to fix lines above camp IV on K2 for employers who are racing from one eight-thousander to the next to collect 14 checks on a list. This is a much better book than No Way Down by Graham Bowley. I would skip No Way Down, or at least take it w Thoughtful review of the tragedy on K2 in 2008. Provides the backstory of the climbing sherpas and a thorough analysis of the events on the mountain. Most importantly, good discussion on the direction of the sport of mountaineering when people are being paid to fix lines above camp IV on K2 for employers who are racing from one eight-thousander to the next to collect 14 checks on a list. This is a much better book than No Way Down by Graham Bowley. I would skip No Way Down, or at least take it with a grain of salt - Bowley pretty much mailed in the research on that book. But it might be a helpful warm-up if you are not familiar with the people and events. Alternatively, look up some of the news articles. Book needed better proof reading.

  3. 4 out of 5

    CG InDE

    I had a feeling this book would be a clunker with that title. Obviously the author knows a great deal about the subject and performed copious amounts of research. Unfortunately, he clearly didn't know how to relay that information in any sort of narrative. This poor book needs a good editor to get all the stories, facts, and details in an order that can keep the reader engaged and interested. The added confusion caused by the similar names of several of the Sherpas doesn't help. I desperately wa I had a feeling this book would be a clunker with that title. Obviously the author knows a great deal about the subject and performed copious amounts of research. Unfortunately, he clearly didn't know how to relay that information in any sort of narrative. This poor book needs a good editor to get all the stories, facts, and details in an order that can keep the reader engaged and interested. The added confusion caused by the similar names of several of the Sherpas doesn't help. I desperately wanted to follow the story and walk away with a clear picture of what happened. Alas, this book made an already confused situation even more convoluted. Flashbacks and multiple story lines work well in screenplays, not journalism. Look elsewhere for an explanation of the 2008 season.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amitava Das

    Most detailed , methodical and objective account of the 2008 K2 disaster. Many books have been written on it - it’s hard to top this one.Only thing is the lack of photographs in the book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amerynth

    I've read lots of mountaineering books and this one, unfortunately, just failed to capture my interest. "One Mountain, Thousand Summits" isn't so much about the tragic expedition on K2, one of the deadliest mountains in the Himalayas, but about who knew what, when about the 11 people who died. For the most part, I just kept thinking "who cares?" who told what story to the media. Freddie Wilkinson objects the way expedition tragedies are covered by the media but also the way mountaineering "firsts I've read lots of mountaineering books and this one, unfortunately, just failed to capture my interest. "One Mountain, Thousand Summits" isn't so much about the tragic expedition on K2, one of the deadliest mountains in the Himalayas, but about who knew what, when about the 11 people who died. For the most part, I just kept thinking "who cares?" who told what story to the media. Freddie Wilkinson objects the way expedition tragedies are covered by the media but also the way mountaineering "firsts" are covered. He objects to the media publishing sketchy information, but also that the media's efforts to get accurate information crashed a website. Basically, the book felt like an indictment of the media's interest in mountaineering accidents, which seemed strange since Wilkinson himself has written and is selling a book that is all about a mountaineering tragedy. I didn't find this book to be well written or particularly interesting. There are so many great mountaineering books out there -- this isn't one of them sadly.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    I'm well versed in the 2008 K2 incident, and Himalayan mountaineering literature in general. When I started to lose interest in this book halfway though, I thought maybe I'd hit my limit for the month. As I forged on, I realized that the culprit was the incredibly disjointed writing style. Every other paragraph, you're skipping around in time and place from one person to the next for no discernible reason and with absolutely no transition. It was like the author had lost interest, or perhaps ran I'm well versed in the 2008 K2 incident, and Himalayan mountaineering literature in general. When I started to lose interest in this book halfway though, I thought maybe I'd hit my limit for the month. As I forged on, I realized that the culprit was the incredibly disjointed writing style. Every other paragraph, you're skipping around in time and place from one person to the next for no discernible reason and with absolutely no transition. It was like the author had lost interest, or perhaps ran out of adderall. I'm just glad it's over.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rhea

    My eyes kept sliding off the pages of this book. It could not hold my attention. I kinda love reading books about people climbing giant mountains (dying is not a requirement) but they're usually not so boring. I don't know if it's the way he paced it, or inserting random facts, or what. Read pretty much any highly regarded book in the genre instead. My eyes kept sliding off the pages of this book. It could not hold my attention. I kinda love reading books about people climbing giant mountains (dying is not a requirement) but they're usually not so boring. I don't know if it's the way he paced it, or inserting random facts, or what. Read pretty much any highly regarded book in the genre instead.

  8. 5 out of 5

    maria helena

    Too much time spent on every little detail, and too disjointed writing style to keep my interest.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maeve

    Couldn't find into thin air so I settled for this. The book feels a little too journalistic, very factual with I feel, very little human emotions. I guess the author's objective was to present the plain facts to readers of what was essentially a chaotic tragedy. The human memory is unfortunately not what we confidently believe it to be what it is. Oftentimes memories are laced by our perceptions, beliefs, emotions, etc. these plus the fact that the witnesses were all at an elevation of >8000m an Couldn't find into thin air so I settled for this. The book feels a little too journalistic, very factual with I feel, very little human emotions. I guess the author's objective was to present the plain facts to readers of what was essentially a chaotic tragedy. The human memory is unfortunately not what we confidently believe it to be what it is. Oftentimes memories are laced by our perceptions, beliefs, emotions, etc. these plus the fact that the witnesses were all at an elevation of >8000m and were turning hypoxic, made it hard for a "true" picture to emerge. I found it hard to follow through about who's who, especially the Sherpas who shared similar names. The "star" of the story seemed to be an Irishman named Gerard McDonnell, who was a kind, affable man well-loved by many who knew him. He was always willing to help and was empathetic towards everyone. I can imagine what a lovely person he must have been and his helpfulness was what killed him eventually on K2. I'm not sure if the writer was biased against the Koreans but it did seem they were painted in a very bad light. Slave-drivers, a strong sense of the master-slave relationship thereby mistreating several of the Sherpas and porters they employed, stubborn, result-oriented, etc. it did really make me want to strangle Kim Jae-Su the leader of the Korean expedition who didn't seem to feel the least bit remorseful for his decision to summit despite warnings from one of the Sherpas that it was too risky. Some mountaineers also believed that above 8000m, it is every man for himself. This certainly gives the sport a bad rep- lack of sportsmanship among mountaineers. But we could also understand why this is so, as sometimes the rescue work could result in even more harm done. However, in Gerard, one finds the contrary. It was mentioned in the story that during one of his hike in Alaska(Denali?), he had went out of his way to help a group of Taiwanese and South Africans who were having trouble on the mountains. I think it goes to show that one should always respect the conditions of the mountains and know that we are at the mercy of them. One should know when to stop, when to try when the mountains let you, and not take unnecessary risks that result in the deaths of others and oneself. Not too bad a read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Janette Fleming

    An insider's account of one of the deadliest and most controversial tragedies in mountaineering history-the 2008 K2 disaster. When eleven men perished on the slopes of K2 in August 2008, it was one of the deadliest single events in Himalayan climbing and made headlines around the world. Yet non of the surviving western climbers could explain precisely what happened. Their memories were self-admittedly fogged by exhaustion, hypoxia, and hallucinations. The truth of what happened lies with four S An insider's account of one of the deadliest and most controversial tragedies in mountaineering history-the 2008 K2 disaster. When eleven men perished on the slopes of K2 in August 2008, it was one of the deadliest single events in Himalayan climbing and made headlines around the world. Yet non of the surviving western climbers could explain precisely what happened. Their memories were self-admittedly fogged by exhaustion, hypoxia, and hallucinations. The truth of what happened lies with four Sherpa guides who were largely ignored by the mainstream media in the aftermath of the tragedy, who lost two of their own during the incident, and whose heroic efforts saved the lives of at least four climbers. Based on his numerous trips to Nepal and in-depth interviews he conducted with these unacknowledged heroes, the other survivors, and the families of the lost climbers, alpinist and veteran climbing writer Freddie Wilkinson presents the true story of what actually occurred on the "savage" mountain. This work combines a criticism of the mainstream press's less-than-complete coverage of the tragedy and an insightful portrait of the lives of 21st-century Sherpas into an intelligent, white-knuckled adventure narrative. Rather disjointed writing style that took some getting use to but enjoyed it. The author focuses on Pemba Gyalje, Tsering (Chhiring) Bhote, and Big Pasang Bhote who were involved in the 2008 summit attempt and looks at the circumstances of Gerard MacDonnell's disappearance on the mountain - for me the most enduring mysteries of the K2 tragedy. If he had survived his story would have been one of the greatest tales of heroism ever told

  11. 5 out of 5

    Doug Schwer

    I actually really enjoyed this book. It is not particularly well written compared to other mountaineering books, but I liked how he covered the disaster on K2 from several different viewpoints. This gives a sense of the real uncertainty about what happened and how the accounts that we hear are so dependent on the personalities of the mountain climbers giving the accounts. Also, he treats the Sherpas and Bhotes with much more respect and interest than I've seen in other mountain climbing books. I actually really enjoyed this book. It is not particularly well written compared to other mountaineering books, but I liked how he covered the disaster on K2 from several different viewpoints. This gives a sense of the real uncertainty about what happened and how the accounts that we hear are so dependent on the personalities of the mountain climbers giving the accounts. Also, he treats the Sherpas and Bhotes with much more respect and interest than I've seen in other mountain climbing books.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peter McGinn

    Wilkinson performed a boatload of research to write this book. I have read other accounts of this disastrous climb, mostly written by participants or based on their accounts, but this author goes much further here. He has spoken to loved ones who were back home and tracking what was going on as best they could through web blogs, satellite phone calls, and so on. Most importantly, the author spoke to those who did not write accounts of the events, and most especially among those, the Sherpas, who Wilkinson performed a boatload of research to write this book. I have read other accounts of this disastrous climb, mostly written by participants or based on their accounts, but this author goes much further here. He has spoken to loved ones who were back home and tracking what was going on as best they could through web blogs, satellite phone calls, and so on. Most importantly, the author spoke to those who did not write accounts of the events, and most especially among those, the Sherpas, who were not only in the middle of events but who also showed extreme bravery and skill trying to rescue anyone who wasn't swept away by the avalanche. Sherpas always need to find work signing on with new expeditions, so they might be understandably reluctant to describe in detail what went on with their expedition teams during the tragedy and aftermath. But Wilkinson was persistent in his efforts. In addition to tracking the Sherpas' movements and actions, the author performs another great service by tracking the movements of the Irish climber Gerard McConnell, about whom the prior accounts gave conflicting reports, including a rather cryptic reference to him walking "towards China." The author pieces together information and adds a bit of educated conjecture to fill in Ger's own heroic efforts to save lives. This was a different sort of tragedy than the 1996 Everest debacle. K2 isn't quite as high as Everest, but it is steeper. Fewer climbers have attempted it, and a higher percentage of those who reach the top perish on the way down. Both events were caused by a combination of a natural event (a storm on Everest and an avalanche on K2) and difficulties with teams trying to work together to prepare ropes for the final ascent. Also, by 2008 there was a lot more technology on the mountain: satellite phones were more numerous, more climbers were blogging even as they went from high camp to highEr camp, and this gave Wilkinson more sources for information. This is good, for in many ways, the K2 tragedy was more complex and harder to figure out than the Everest one had been. My only critique is a small one. There are a few times right in the middle of an interview with a source when the author describes some back history around a point that has come up in that interview. It is relevant, of course, but it seriously interrupted the flow of the narrative for me. After several paragraphs or even pages, the interview would suddenly resume. It was distracting, but perhaps he explored and discarded other ways of inserting that back It seems unlikely that Wilkinson has gotten every single detail right with all of the hundreds of pages of material he must have had to draw from, but I feel confident that the hard work and meticulous care has produced the most accurate portrayal yet of what happened on K2 in 2008, and a well-written effort at that.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Zohar Abramovitz

    It's hard not to compare this book about the 2008 disaster on K2 that left 11 climbers dead to Jon Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air" about the 1996 Everest disaster and it's not a terribly favorable comparison. While "Into Thin Air" was a deeply personal and tightly wound narrative that left me awed, moved and saddened, "One Mountain" has a tendency to meander and I found it difficult to track the various characters or figure out what Wilkinson's... for lack of a better word... thesis was. It took It's hard not to compare this book about the 2008 disaster on K2 that left 11 climbers dead to Jon Krakauer's book "Into Thin Air" about the 1996 Everest disaster and it's not a terribly favorable comparison. While "Into Thin Air" was a deeply personal and tightly wound narrative that left me awed, moved and saddened, "One Mountain" has a tendency to meander and I found it difficult to track the various characters or figure out what Wilkinson's... for lack of a better word... thesis was. It took me a long time to read it and while I think he finally did find something resembling a point in the last 50 pages or so, it was heavy sledding to get there. I know this book was well received, but I just wish he had been able to decide earlier on whether he was doing an investigative journalism piece, an analysis of the roles and characters of the Sherpas or a focused story on the life and tragic and possibly heroic death of one man, Gerard McDonnell, rather than a somewhat stew-like amalgam of all three. Anyway, if you want to read a book about people dying on mountains, read "Into Thin Air." If you or someone you know is thinking about climbing an 8,000m mountain, read "Into Thin Air."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Neeke

    This book is a bit tricky to rate. The information and general writing is good, it's clear the author did their research, but it's really disjointed and presents a lot of superfluous information and unnecessary details. I don't need the exact dimensions of the candle someone's lit, nor do I need to know about the hairstyle, clothes and gait of family members or friends of the climbers. I don't really see how this adds to the story. Regarding the 2008 disaster, I've previously read No Way Down and This book is a bit tricky to rate. The information and general writing is good, it's clear the author did their research, but it's really disjointed and presents a lot of superfluous information and unnecessary details. I don't need the exact dimensions of the candle someone's lit, nor do I need to know about the hairstyle, clothes and gait of family members or friends of the climbers. I don't really see how this adds to the story. Regarding the 2008 disaster, I've previously read No Way Down and Buried in the Sky, so of course this book is mostly repetition of what I've already read. It did, however, provide some different insights in the incident with setting out the ropes in and the bottleneck and how some of the main miscommunications arose. It was also interesting to read more about Pemba Gyalje point of view, as most articles have been from the pov of Western climbers.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    One of my favorite books is "Into Thin Air," and this tells a similar story about a different climbing tragedy. The first part of the book was the most interesting to me, because it told about the actual events. Later chapters dealt with more technical aspects and some history of climbing, which I skimmed. One of my favorite books is "Into Thin Air," and this tells a similar story about a different climbing tragedy. The first part of the book was the most interesting to me, because it told about the actual events. Later chapters dealt with more technical aspects and some history of climbing, which I skimmed.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brian Glenn

    If you want to be a mountaineer, this is a great place to start. Wilkinson does a magnificent job of showing how teams went to K2 without a clear understanding of what roles would be played by whom, and how that resulted terribly, and more importantly, unnecessarily.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ciara

    in august 2008, several different international teams went for the summit on K2, the world's second highest & arguably most dangerous mountain. it's part of the karkaoram mountain range, located in pakistan. by the time the dust settled & all the survivors were back in base camp/evacuated to military hospitals, eleven people were dead, almost all of them from avalanche & serac falls (when huge chunks of ice cleave off the overhanging glacial feature that inhibits progress to the summit). in some in august 2008, several different international teams went for the summit on K2, the world's second highest & arguably most dangerous mountain. it's part of the karkaoram mountain range, located in pakistan. by the time the dust settled & all the survivors were back in base camp/evacuated to military hospitals, eleven people were dead, almost all of them from avalanche & serac falls (when huge chunks of ice cleave off the overhanging glacial feature that inhibits progress to the summit). in some cases, there were surviving eyewitnesses to the deaths, who were able to say with some certainty exactly how the climbers died. in other cases, they were confused, conflicting reports from climbers suffering from hypoxia & hallucinations, who could not be sure exactly what they saw. the author of this book is an enthusiastic & knowledgeable climber, though he has no interest in personally subjecting himself to the the 8000+-meter peaks. he does have an enduring interest in the mysteries of K2, & noticed right away that most of the media coverage surrounding the august 2008 disaster was mostly gleaned from online blogs, rumors, & interviews that were not consistent with old-fashioned journalistic expectations. he cobbled these reports together & augmented them with his own research, including face-to-face interviews with three of the four surviving sherpa who climbed K2 on summit day, & with people who had lost loved ones in the accident. he manages to put together a pretty persuasive case about what happened, countering much of what is assumed in mainstream media reporting on the incident. i love reading these mountaineering books, maybe because climbing an 8000-meter peak is not something i would ever ever do. i think i like these books for the same reason other people read mysteries of thrillers. i want to unravel the questions about what happened & see what comes next & how everyone handled probably the most horrible day of their lives. this one...it was okay. it kept me turning pages & i feel like i was over 200 pages in before i even considered checking my progress. it went really quickly. my criticisms: the narrative of what happened on the mountain isn't really knit together in a coherent fashion. i gather that that's kind of the nature of climbing a mountain--not everything is linear, not all memories can be trusted. but as a reader, it was kind of a struggle to figure out exactly what was going on & how it related to events that come chapters later or chapter earlier. i also found the last few pages very disappointing, as they relate the perception of a climber the author had really wanted to talk to, & failed to meet face-to-face. there's a certain amount of tantalizing build-up concerning the possibility that the author may have secured this climber's story anyway, but the way it is shared is very vague & unsatisfying. but probably my main issue with the book was that it had a few significant editing/proofreading issues. i don't think the author is really a great stylist to begin with. a lot of the language is clunky & downright cliche to the genre of disaster/mountaineering narratives. add to this the use of words like "excructing." it's obvious that he meant "excruciating," but pausing to figure that out took me out of the story. there are numerous examples like this throughout the book, including one part where he says some climbers spent the night at over 60,000 feet. he means 6000 meters. 60,000 feet is more than twice as tall as mount everest, the tallest mountain on earth. letting a mistake like that through was kind of a big slip-up, i felt. there is also a part where he says that the climbers found the landscape "unerringly beautiful". not sure what he meant here. "eerily beautiful," maybe? "unerringly beautiful" is not technically wrong...it doesn't work from a stylistic/editorial standpoint. it doesn't match the tone of the passage, at all. it is in fact jarringly wrong. there were just a few issues like this, distracting me from the story. there are also times when he kind of goes a little too far to present the surviving sherpa as heroic good guys who never did anything wrong a day in their lives. that got kind of tiresome after a while. smacked of trying too hard. other than that, i enjoyed the book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This was an interesting read for me. While I am not a mountain climber I love outdoor/wilderness adventure - hiking, trekking, scrambling, kayaking. I have read a number of climbing books and while they do not inspire me to scale K2 they do keep the magic of the wild alive for me while I am in the city and I respect the tenacity and dedication of truly professional alpinists. Freddie Wilkinson's book sets out to examine the events of the well known 2008 disaster on K2. As he does this Wilkinson, This was an interesting read for me. While I am not a mountain climber I love outdoor/wilderness adventure - hiking, trekking, scrambling, kayaking. I have read a number of climbing books and while they do not inspire me to scale K2 they do keep the magic of the wild alive for me while I am in the city and I respect the tenacity and dedication of truly professional alpinists. Freddie Wilkinson's book sets out to examine the events of the well known 2008 disaster on K2. As he does this Wilkinson, like so many others, is inexorably drawn to the magic/allure/mystery of the Sherpas, their culture and their often underplayed contributions to serious alpine achievements. As such this is an interesting look not only at the Sherpas' contributions but it also explains the roles and developing contributions of their cousins elsewhere in Nepal and in Pakistan. All too often the public misconceives a Sherpa as any "local Asian" "porter" who is employed by a foreign climbing expidition. While I have seen others attempt to clarify this error, Wilkinson has gone into more depth on this than I have read elsewhere in climbing books. While concentrating on the contributions of Nepalese and Pakistani climbers and supporters, Wilkinson also illustrates very well the role of and highlights unanswered questions about a number of the foreign climbers, e.g. Gerard McDonnell and Wilco van Rooijen among others. At the same time though there are many others about whom we learn almost nothing - Dren Mandic, Park Kyeong-hyo among them. Granted in a story with so many players not all can share the limelight but Wilkinson has undertaken an exhaustive study and even he in the end admits that he has not been able to cover all of the stories in as much depth as he might have liked. The book in many cases to me read like a series of magazine articles packed together in an intense and detailed review of the tragedy. The timeline changes frequently and requires the reader to remain actively involved in the story in order to stay abreast of where and how it all fits together. While this is often an effective style I felt that there was a bit too much of it, particularly in Part Three, and at times it felt like the book was struggling to stay together. This is a book which serious outdoor adventurers will enjoy though it may not be for the armchair thrill seeker. I was once again impressed by the planning, logistics and dedication required to mount even a "lightweight" expedition to an 8,000 meter peak. The author touches on the often discussed subject of just who should be going out to tackle these big mountains - only the professionals or anyone with the cash to hire an army of professional supporters. While Wilkinson does not deal with that subject exhaustively no modern review of any alpine undertaking in the Himalayas would be complete without some consideration of this and the authour successfully checks that box. Through it all Wilkinson has delivered an in-depth study of what did or what may have occurred on K2 in the summer of 2008. He has added considerable colour to the narrative with the detailed stories of and / or circumstances surrounding Chhiring Dorje, Pemba Gyalje Sherpa, Pasang Lama and Jumik Bhote. In my opinion this is a good first book from a professional alpinist and author of numerous magazine articles. I look forward to his next book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Suman

    Few news events captured my attention (much to the chagrin of my advisor who wanted my attention on research) as much as the 2008 K2 disaster in which 11 mountaineers died high on the mountain. Much of the reporting, while utterly captivating, sucked for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is that none of the journalists could get their stories straight. Fast forward two years and we now have two books that attempt to fill the serac-size gaps left by the mainstream news. One, "No Way Dow Few news events captured my attention (much to the chagrin of my advisor who wanted my attention on research) as much as the 2008 K2 disaster in which 11 mountaineers died high on the mountain. Much of the reporting, while utterly captivating, sucked for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is that none of the journalists could get their stories straight. Fast forward two years and we now have two books that attempt to fill the serac-size gaps left by the mainstream news. One, "No Way Down", is written by a journalist, Graham Bowley, who originally covered the event in 2008. The Other is "One Mountain Thousand Summits", written by professional mountaineer Freddie Wilkinson. While "No Way Down" is currently the more popular book, OMTS is by far the superior work. What Wilkinson lacks in prose style compared to Bowley (which is not much), he more than makes up for in depth of research, passion for the subject, great background knowledge of mountaineering, and general competence. The amount of research he performs in trying to piece together an accurate depiction of that week is astounding. At one point, in trying to piece together the final moments of a certain mountaineer, he discovers that an hour difference between photographic evidence and other mountaineers' recollections stemmed from differing daylight savings time in Pakistan compared to the rest of the world. This makes his arguments much stronger, especially when positing certain hypotheses (I won't spoil the fun for you) that aren't yet mainstream media view. In addition to research, he also exploits his background as a mountaineer. He spends time climbing with and interviewing the Sherpas on the K2 expedition, which is smart because a) they were the strongest climbers on the trip, b) they were the ones saving other climbers and c) their stories were never told to journalists. He recounts the bifurcating histories of siege-style/guided ascents and its alpine counterpart and even compares the biases of newspaper to blog and website reporting. I have stopped giving stars to books, but I'm going to make an exception here for a couple reasons. First, OMTS is a great book which sadly is being outsold by the inferior but more effectively marketed "No Way Down". Second, there are only 6 ratings (so far) of this book, and one of the poorer ones was left by a person who bestowed her highest rating to a work called "The Bachelorette Party"... Seriously? The book isn't perfect. The ending sags a bit and Wilkinson, although a mountaineer, is not an 8000m-peak veteran such as Ed Viesturs, who I thought showed a bit more depth in his K2 book. (Of course, my infinite wisdom comes from reading a few mountaineering books and sitting in front of a computer for 14 hours a day). But in all, this is a damn fine book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark Dunn

    This book documents the 2008 K2 expeditions that result in 11 dead over the period of a few days. I wouldn't recommend you read it unless you plan to climb K2 and are well acquainted with climbing terminology. Even then, read the other reviews for the book by climbers before you do, as you may still decide not to read it. The book too often uses terminology that doesn't make sense if you're not a climber. For example, "he would have had to determine which rope within the tangle needed to be unlo This book documents the 2008 K2 expeditions that result in 11 dead over the period of a few days. I wouldn't recommend you read it unless you plan to climb K2 and are well acquainted with climbing terminology. Even then, read the other reviews for the book by climbers before you do, as you may still decide not to read it. The book too often uses terminology that doesn't make sense if you're not a climber. For example, "he would have had to determine which rope within the tangle needed to be unloaded. Then he would have ascended to the anchor point above, and tied a three-wrap friction hitch around the taunt line. This would be connected to a spare section of rope, which in turn would be connected by a munter hitch to the anchor. With a new load-bearing system thus created, Gerard could then cut the tensioned line above the friction hitch, and lower the climbers using the munter hitch with the spare line." Huh? In addition to this, the writer tries too hard to make the book prose, however, is really just wasting words given the book isn't well suited to a generic audience. For example, "On an overcast April day, I left early from Cas van de Gevel’s apartment in Utrecht and boarded a train heading east, out into the countryside. I changed lines at a small suburban station, boarding a second, smaller rail that rattled farther into the flat, verdant landscape. A well-used expedition Land Cruiser with sponsor stickers puttered to a stop in front of the station steps. Wilco van Rooijen drove me two miles back to his home—the partially converted barn he had purchased a year ago, right before he left for K2. He led me inside," Ultimately, the book could've been summarised in a chapter or two, and would've been an interesting magazine or blog article in the process. My biggest takeaway was that you shouldn't do guided tours of dangerous mountains like K2. It's not fair on the guides due to the danger you put them in, and also puts other climbers on the mountain in danger.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ell Eastwood

    Oooh, this was good. It's not Into Thin Air, of course not, it could never be Into Thin Air, but do you know what it is? It's The Expedition by Bea Uusma. It's about obsession and love and looking for answers in a place where you know that you will probably never find them, not the way you want to them at least. True, Uusma's obsession spanned longer than the two years it took Wilkinson to write this book, but it's still the best comparison I can make. The book does not follow any clear order in Oooh, this was good. It's not Into Thin Air, of course not, it could never be Into Thin Air, but do you know what it is? It's The Expedition by Bea Uusma. It's about obsession and love and looking for answers in a place where you know that you will probably never find them, not the way you want to them at least. True, Uusma's obsession spanned longer than the two years it took Wilkinson to write this book, but it's still the best comparison I can make. The book does not follow any clear order in the narrative, it jumps back and forth in time between events and perspectives ... but for some reason it's never confusing. Yes, if you wanna go back and look something up it's impossible to remember if you read it 10 or 100 pages ago, but by going all over the place, all over the world more or less, you slowly but surely get a picture of what might have happened on K2 in 2008. I say "might have happened" because even though the book sticks with one particular narrative, we will never know for sure. The only thing we do know is that most of the deaths seems to have been so pointless, so random, so sudden, and I guess it's hard to accept that sometimes there is no greater meaning behind them. Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether Gerard saved the Koreans and Jumik Bhote or not, because none of them made it down alive, but then again ... maybe it is better to imagine that they died feeling positive, happy, that they were gonna survive, rather than the hanging upside-down, despairing. But maybe Gerard and Big Pasang were good people even if they didn't manage to save a single person before they died. We will never know, but obviously the 2008 K2 disaster will continue to fascinate people. I am one of those people.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Fredsky

    How many times have I climbed up K2 this year? More times than I ever thought I might. Even if I seldom made it back to base camp intact... or even alive! Reading this book was so familiar to me I began to wonder how many times I've read it already. It is a harrowing tale, like all the write-ups of the 2008 K2 tragedy. Wilkinson goes to great lengths describing each team (too many teams) that left Camp IV that day in the beginning of August (too late in summer, too late in the day) to reach the How many times have I climbed up K2 this year? More times than I ever thought I might. Even if I seldom made it back to base camp intact... or even alive! Reading this book was so familiar to me I began to wonder how many times I've read it already. It is a harrowing tale, like all the write-ups of the 2008 K2 tragedy. Wilkinson goes to great lengths describing each team (too many teams) that left Camp IV that day in the beginning of August (too late in summer, too late in the day) to reach the summit of the second tallest mountain in the world. There are just enough mountains. Wilkinson presents some very useful maps that detail all of the most dangerous features of the best, or really ONLY, path to the top. He showed us exactly where most of the climbers ran into trouble, where avalanches came down on them, where the best path led directly underneath a huge ice overhang (a serac) and a place called the bottleneck, where everyone had to wait and wait and wait and wait while the next bunch ahead of them climbed up first and while the odds of summiting and getting down to even Camp IV in daylight were slipping away right along with their remaining brainpower. Possibly I've forgotten how many times I've read about K2 because I spent too much time above the death zone. I'm not even sure how many times I've actually read this one book. It's a cautionary tale.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lydia

    Freddie presents a well-researched and page-turning account of what happened on K2 in August 2008, when 11 mountaineers died over the course of a 2-day summit attempt. Through in-depth interviews with survivors, including the climbing-Sherpas who had been instrumental in both the climbing and subsequent rescue operations, he is able to tease out the intricacies of survivor accounts affected by hypoxia and exhaustion to figure out what transpired upon the mountain. Transitions between his first-p Freddie presents a well-researched and page-turning account of what happened on K2 in August 2008, when 11 mountaineers died over the course of a 2-day summit attempt. Through in-depth interviews with survivors, including the climbing-Sherpas who had been instrumental in both the climbing and subsequent rescue operations, he is able to tease out the intricacies of survivor accounts affected by hypoxia and exhaustion to figure out what transpired upon the mountain. Transitions between his first-person accounts of interactions with involved parties and third-person historical overviews of relevant topics, include mountaineering on 8,000 meter peaks, high-altitude health issues, Sherpa culture, and others, are sometimes jolted, but overall he is able to weave a complex and compelling tale into which any climber or mountain enthusiast will be drawn.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christina Dudley

    Investigative account of the 2008 mountaineering disaster on K2. A slow starter--the beginning seems as jumbled as the oxygen-deprived experiences of those involved, but I found Part II riveting, when Wilkinson explores the Sherpa and HAP (High-Altitude Porter) perspective, along with background of those men. If you enjoy this sort of thing, I recommend Ed Viesturs' K2: LIFE AND DEATH ON THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS MOUNTAIN. Don't know who Wilkinson's editor was a Penguin, but I found the occasion Investigative account of the 2008 mountaineering disaster on K2. A slow starter--the beginning seems as jumbled as the oxygen-deprived experiences of those involved, but I found Part II riveting, when Wilkinson explores the Sherpa and HAP (High-Altitude Porter) perspective, along with background of those men. If you enjoy this sort of thing, I recommend Ed Viesturs' K2: LIFE AND DEATH ON THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS MOUNTAIN. Don't know who Wilkinson's editor was a Penguin, but I found the occasional malapropisms and typos (I hope they were typos) distracting: pealed/peeled, taunt/taut, etc. Wilkinson was also suffering from what Mark Twain calls "literary flatting and sharping," where he uses "approximate words" to get at his meaning, like "extolled" for "exhorted" and "benighted" for "overtaken by night." Not a huge deal, but, like I said, distracting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    David Ellis

    I picked up this book at the library because I have been binge reading mountain climbing adventure books. Judged from that criterion, my rating would have been much lower. The narrative and timeline of Wilkinson's book are too disjointed and confusing to provide edge of your seat adventure. That said, sticking with the book, even restarting the book, led me to a greater depth of understanding of 21st Century high altitude mountaineering. Interwoven with the differing perspectives of what happene I picked up this book at the library because I have been binge reading mountain climbing adventure books. Judged from that criterion, my rating would have been much lower. The narrative and timeline of Wilkinson's book are too disjointed and confusing to provide edge of your seat adventure. That said, sticking with the book, even restarting the book, led me to a greater depth of understanding of 21st Century high altitude mountaineering. Interwoven with the differing perspectives of what happened in August 2008 on K2, is an in-depth exploration of "hubris, racial tensions, and ethical ambiguities." For a reader just looking to be swept away in page turning adventure, tragedy, and heroism this book will likely be frustrating, if not disappointing. For a reader looking for deeper meaning and understanding of modern mountaineering, this is an important, although tricky, read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mike Kraman

    What happened on K2 in 2008 is a huge mystery. There is much to be learned from this presentation. It was quite confusing before I figured out that the author was presenting it as a mystery with several perspectives. Once I got that...it all clicked. However, it is all still a mystery. Be prepared to see the perspective of several climbers, the western cultural perspective, the eastern cultural perspective, the surviving family members, the struggling friends, and finally the perspective of the c What happened on K2 in 2008 is a huge mystery. There is much to be learned from this presentation. It was quite confusing before I figured out that the author was presenting it as a mystery with several perspectives. Once I got that...it all clicked. However, it is all still a mystery. Be prepared to see the perspective of several climbers, the western cultural perspective, the eastern cultural perspective, the surviving family members, the struggling friends, and finally the perspective of the competing press sources (least credible of all). One of the best books I've read this year!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    At first I liked it because it's written by a climber and he didn't dumb it down. He also gave quite a bit of print to the Sherpa's (instead of unknown and unnamed climbers), and finally, I liked it because he quoted a few of my friends. However I could barely follow the story after the first few chapters because he jumped around with dates all the time. Also, I kept thinking that he was trying to make a drama out of the press and climbing world's reaction to the tragedy instead of the actual in At first I liked it because it's written by a climber and he didn't dumb it down. He also gave quite a bit of print to the Sherpa's (instead of unknown and unnamed climbers), and finally, I liked it because he quoted a few of my friends. However I could barely follow the story after the first few chapters because he jumped around with dates all the time. Also, I kept thinking that he was trying to make a drama out of the press and climbing world's reaction to the tragedy instead of the actual incidents themselves. In the end I found myself forced to read through the final chapters and was willingly to skip some details because they just didn't seem to matter anyways.

  28. 5 out of 5

    lynn

    This book is an attempt to incorporate the recollections of those survivors of the tragedy of August 2008 on K2. The author interviewed dozens of climbers, Sherpas, family members and friends trying to piece together what happened, why so many (11) died, and what may have prevented so many deaths. In the end, he was able to also shed some light on the lives, philosophies and motivations of the Sherpas/Bhotes who live in the Himalayas and chose to assist the wealthy people who come from everywher This book is an attempt to incorporate the recollections of those survivors of the tragedy of August 2008 on K2. The author interviewed dozens of climbers, Sherpas, family members and friends trying to piece together what happened, why so many (11) died, and what may have prevented so many deaths. In the end, he was able to also shed some light on the lives, philosophies and motivations of the Sherpas/Bhotes who live in the Himalayas and chose to assist the wealthy people who come from everywhere else to "conquer" the tallest mountains on earth. Very enlightening, though a bit wandering and disjointed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Clark

    I really wanted to like this book but it just never came together for me. The timeline was very confusing; the material was non-chronological and several periods of time recurred over and over. The book claims to be entire factual but ends with a lengthy hypothetical. And the writing drifts from the K2 expedition to various other mountaineering events without obvious transitions. All in all, reads just like a book written as an over-long series of magazine articles. It does raise some tantalizin I really wanted to like this book but it just never came together for me. The timeline was very confusing; the material was non-chronological and several periods of time recurred over and over. The book claims to be entire factual but ends with a lengthy hypothetical. And the writing drifts from the K2 expedition to various other mountaineering events without obvious transitions. All in all, reads just like a book written as an over-long series of magazine articles. It does raise some tantalizing facts and posits some interesting questions. But--for this reader--it just never became a solid book about something.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karen Beath

    This was a very well-researched book about the 2008 K2 tradegy in which 11 people were killed. The author looks into the event in great detail, interviewing a wide range of eye-witnesses and relatives to piece together what happened. I really liked hearing about a range of theories rather than a commonly believed story. It also drew attention to the plight of the Sherpa people and Pakistani guides - especially their often ignored heroism. The author was a very good writer however at times I foun This was a very well-researched book about the 2008 K2 tradegy in which 11 people were killed. The author looks into the event in great detail, interviewing a wide range of eye-witnesses and relatives to piece together what happened. I really liked hearing about a range of theories rather than a commonly believed story. It also drew attention to the plight of the Sherpa people and Pakistani guides - especially their often ignored heroism. The author was a very good writer however at times I found the story was hard to follow as he jumps back and forth a lot. Some of the mountaineering terms could also be difficult for a non-mountaineer. All in all, however, it was an interesting read.

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