Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book review: "No Way Down: Life and Death on K2"

In "No Way Down," author Graham Bowley thoroughly details how arrogance, disorganization and selfishness combined with unstable snow and ice to produce 11 deaths in a tragic few days on K2, the world's second-highest peak.

The book does have moments of heroism and gutsy survival. I was particularly impressed with the effort of Sherpa Pemba Gyalje to help other mountaineers. The story of Wilco van Rooijen, who spent two freezing nights trapped alone high on the mountain, is amazing.

But the book makes it clear that many of the deaths and injuries could have been avoided. Too many climbers kept going up when they should have turned back, and they failed to cooperate or stick together when they should have.

There are so many characters in the book, I had some trouble keeping them straight. And since the events of the tragedy unfolded chaotically, there is no central character to follow.

I read an uncorrected proof edition which had no maps or pictures. It would nice if the finished book has both.

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