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K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain [Anglais] [Broché]

Ed Viesturs , David Roberts
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Descriptions du produit


In the wee hours of the morning of August 1, 2008, some thirty climbers from ten different expeditions set out from their high camps on the Abruzzi Ridge of K2. At 28,251 feet the world's second- tallest mountain, K2, thrusts skyward out of the Karakoram Range of northern Pakistan. After weeks of sitting out bad weather, the mountaineers were poised to go for the summit on a clear and windless day. During the endless storms, morale at base camp had reached rock bottom, and some climbers had thrown in the towel and gone home. But now everybody still on the mountain was jazzed. As they emerged from their cramped tents to clip on crampons and hoist packs, the climbers were riding a manic high. Sometime that day, they thought, they would claim one of the most elusive and glorious prizes in mountaineering. For most of these men and women, K2 was the goal of a lifetime.
Chapter 1: T H E M OT I VATOR
Although the various teams were operating independently, they had tried to cobble together a common logistical plan that would help everyone get to the top. The crucial feature of that plan was the fixing of thin nylon ropes— to be used on the way up, in effect, as handrails, and on the way down as lines that could be easily rappelled. Those fixed ropes were intended to ensure the climbers' passage through the Bottleneck, a steep and dangerous couloir of snow and ice that rises from an altitude of 26,400 feet.
The Bottleneck and the sketchy leftward traverse at the top of it form the "crux" of the Abruzzi Ridge. Although climbing the Bottleneck is only moderately difficult, what makes that high gauntlet so nerve- racking is a gigantic serac— a cliff of solid ice— that looms above it. Weighing many tons, poised at a vertical and, in places, an overhanging angle, the serac looks as though it is barely attached to the mountain. Yet in the sixtynine years since mountaineers first came to grips with this formidable obstacle, the serac had proved remarkably stable. It seemed, indeed, to be a permanent feature of K2's summit pyramid.
Thirty climbers crawling up the same route on the same day would have been business as usual on Mount Everest. On K2—a far more serious mountain, and one that has seen far fewer attempts— such a crowd was unprecedented. Still, as they approached the Bottleneck, thanks to the perfect weather for which they had waited so long, the climbers were awash in optimism. The summit was within their grasp.
And then things started to go subtly wrong. Small mistakes were made. Miscommunications, fueled by the many different languages the climbers spoke, flared into angry words. The slower climbers began to block the way for those who were capable of moving faster. Yet the single event that turned an awkward day into a catastrophe was nobody's fault.
Within the next thirty- six hours, eleven of those mountaineers would die high on the Abruzzi Ridge. The disaster that unfolded on August 1 would end up as the worst single- event tragedy in the mountain's history, and the second worst in the long chronicle of mountaineering in the Himalaya and the Karakoram.
And nobody saw it coming.
Almost sixteen years earlier, on August 16, 1992, with my partners Scott Fischer and Charley Mace, I had left our high camp in the predawn darkness and started trudging up toward the Bottleneck. On that day, I, too, had been full of bursting hope, tempered by the wary alertness that is the obligatory state of mind for any alpinist who wants to stay alive in the great ranges. I had previously climbed Everest and Kangchenjunga, the first- and third- highest peaks in the world, but I knew that K2 was in another league of difficulty and danger.
Like 2008's climbers, Scott, Charley, and I had had to bide our time for interminable weeks before we finally got a crack at the summit. Not only storms but all kinds of logistical snafus and interpersonal conflicts had delayed our final assault again and again. It was not until fifty- seven days after arriving at base camp that we finally set out for the top. On the other hand, on that August day in 1992, the three of us had had the Bottleneck to ourselves. And fixing ropes up the couloir was not part of our plan.
In No Shortcuts to the Top, the memoir I wrote about climbing the world's fourteen highest peaks, I devoted a full chapter to my K2 expedition.
Even after K2, it took me several years before I began to consider that it might be possible for me to reach the summit of all fourteen 8,000- meter peaks. For one thing, I didn't think there was any way that I could ever afford to go on so many expeditions. For another, climbing all fourteen 8,000ers seemed far too ambitious a goal. The first person to accomplish that feat had been the great Tyrolean mountaineer Reinhold Messner, who knocked off his fourteenth in 1986. And Messner was like a god to me.
Yet with K2, I became the first American to climb the world's three highest mountains. The outdoor magazines ran a few short profiles about me. One of them was titled "Ed Who?" Even after those pieces appeared, I was still relatively unknown to the general public, but with the boost in confidence they gave me, I finally got up the nerve to start approaching potential sponsors.
K2 was a huge turning point in my life. Yes, it brought me my first modest taste of what you might call "mountaineering celebrity." But far more important than any faint whiff of fame were the lessons K2 taught me.
In the aftermath of 2008's disaster, all kinds of armchair "experts" delivered their scathing critiques. Nonclimbers clogging the online chat rooms, in response to sensational newspaper articles, took a macabre delight in the tragedy. This was Everest 1996 all over again, they seemed to think— the melodrama of clueless dilettantes who had no business on the mountain buying their way into a catastrophe at the cost of their own lives, as well as the lives of professional guides entrusted with caring for them. (Hundreds of readers of Jon Krakauer's bestseller Into Thin Air reduced his complicated narrative to that simplistic morality play.) After the August 2008 tragedy, Messner himself sounded off in this vein, decrying the "K2 package deals" that he assumed had lured novices to the mountain and concluding, "Something like this is just pure stupidity."
Messner was not the only famous mountaineer to criticize the victims of the 2008 disaster. The temptation to second- guess those luckless climbers' decisions was all but irresistible. Newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV shows called me for my commentary. I was already beginning to think that what had happened on K2 on August 1 was far more complicated than the first tabloid and Internet versions of the story. It would take several weeks for more detailed accounts to trickle down from the slopes of the mountain and find their way to responsible media outlets. And I was not about to cast facile aspersions on climbers who had died on the mountain, or had barely survived it.
In 1992, K2 had not only proved to be a turning point in my life— it had been the scene of what I still regard as the greatest mistake I ever made as a mountaineer. The most important lesson I learned from that beautiful and dangerous peak was a blunt one: Don't ever do that again if you want to stay alive. Listen to your instincts, and follow them.
Recently, I reread my diary from the K2 trip. I was struck by how different it seemed from the account I had written in No Shortcuts. Events and relationships that seemed really important when they were happening barely made it into the chapter I wrote thirteen years after the expedition. Conversely, some of the most dramatic turning points of my weeks on K2 got covered in my diary in only a few deadpan sentences. I wasn't writing the diary, of course, for anybody else to read. At the time, I thought I was simply making a day- by- day record of the most ambitious mountaineering attempt of my life up to that point.
Now I wonder. Any "story" can be told in dozens of different ways. For that very reason, I believe, every time you go back and reexamine an important chapter in your life, you learn something new about it. And the reactions of audiences when I give slide shows, as well as the e- mails I received from folks who read No Shortcuts to the Top, gave me many new insights into my own experience.
I have always believed that climbing mountains teaches you lessons. And more than that, I firmly believe that those lessons can be applied to the rest of your life. It's not an easy process, however. Mountaineering literature is full of trite clichés about "conquering an enemy" or "transcending your limits." For at least two centuries, philosophers of the outdoors have insisted that nature is "a school of character."
Would that it were all so simple! The most important lesson I learned from K2 was that by simply putting off making a decision, I made the worst decision of my life: to climb on into a gathering storm. I was lucky to survive our summit push on K2. Scott and Charley didn't agree with me about this. That day, they never seemed to suffer from the nagging doubts— the knot in my gut, as I've always thought of it— I carried with me hour after hour. Yet my partners' comparatively blithe attitude about our climbing on that August 16 doesn't even begin to tempt me to revise my judgment. It's ultimately a personal thing.
K2 is often called the hardest mountain in the world. It's also often called the deadliest. This may not be strictly true: in terms of the ratio of climbers who get to the top compared to those who die on the mountain, Annapurna is more deadly than K2. (I succeeded on Annapurna, in fact, only on my third try, in 2005, and only after I'd begun to wonder whether it was too dangerous a peak to justify another attempt. It became my n...

Revue de presse

“Gripping...reveals a good deal about the rarefied noble-gonzo world of high-altitude mountaineering.”
—New York Times

“Viesturs illuminates K2's challanges, triumphs, tragedies, and follies...Riveting.”
—The Daily Beast

“Viesturs's you-are-there narration communicates effortlessly the enormous effort, and high adventure, of scaling K2.”
—Publishers Weekly

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 352 pages
  • Editeur : Broadway Books; Édition : 1 Reprint (3 août 2010)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0767932609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767932608
  • Dimensions du produit: 20,4 x 13,4 x 2,5 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 5.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 84.457 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Passionnant et impressionnant 8 juillet 2012
Par Sissou
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Une histoire de la conquête du K2, vue par un des grands alpinistes actuels, Ed Viesturs. Bien écrit, bien documenté, et évidemment les commentaires de l'auteur sur les expéditions "historiques" sont techniquement pertinentes (parfois peut-être un peu trop "patriotiques", mais si peu). Passionnant de bout en bout !
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  122 commentaires
55 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The price of victory 28 septembre 2009
Par Phelps Gates - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
David Roberts' name on a mountain climbing book is a guarantee of a good read, and this one is no exception. The first chapter grabbed me, and I ended up spending most of the weekend reading this book instead of doing other things I'd planned! Roberts has the knack of making you able to visualize what's going on during a climb, even if you've never read or seen anything else about the terrain.

Do we need another book about K2? The unique feature of this one is that it gives Ed Viesturs' slant on what went wrong (and right) in the expeditions to this dangerous mountain. There's no shortage of armchair mountaineers, but Viesturs has the credentials to make his analysis stick. His own 1992 climb doesn't get a chapter (I guess you'll have to get his other book for that), but he covers the most important years in which climbers attempted the mountain. The book is also the most up-to-date summary of the astonishing scandal behind the 1954 Italian climb, which has fully come to light only in the last couple of years.

A previous reviewer complained about lack of pictures. Actually, according to the rear jacket, the final version of the book includes 28 pages of color and B&W photos (absent, alas, from the pre-publication freebie copies).
28 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par RSProds - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Five AIRY Stars!! Author & mountaineer Ed Viesturs is one of the world's great climbers who has pulled off the rare feat of reaching the summit of all 14 "8000 meters and higher" peaks, topped off by Everest. This up-to-date book on the second highest mountain, K2, written along with mountaineering author David Roberts, follows Viesturs' famous book No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks. Mr. Viesturs knows K2 very well since he made a troubled ascent of this 28,241 ft monster which he barely survived. He also gives a historical view of the most important attempts at climbing this mountain with the highest fatality rates among 8000 meter peaks. Compared to Everest, which the author says has many ascents each climbing season, K2 is a unique experience with comparatively fewer ascents. Difficult to get to in the Karakoram range, avalanche-prone, plagued by bad weather, with bivouacs inadvisable, and with no winter ascents, K2 is a daunting proposition for the most experienced climbers in the best of circumstances.

Beginning with the events of August 1 & 2, 2008 which became the worst climbing disaster in the history of K2 (an accumulation of events), Mr Viesturs gives both a very frank and personal viewpoint of his own climb and experiences, juxtaposed with other major campaigns and historical events over the years. Despite many 'topical switchbacks' between different climbs which can be mildly difficult to follow, this is an engrossing and sometimes touching read that covers teams, climbing techniques, tactics, heroics and failures, lives and deaths. He also covers the routes, especially the familiar "Abruzzi ridge route" with the main features: the ridge itself, the Bottleneck couloir, House's chimney, the Black Pyramid, the ice serac, the leftward traverse, the summit pyramid, and the alternate Abruzzi spur route. For those new to K2, the map at the front is most helpful in tracking the activities of various teams & campaigns. The author has included photographs, especially the author's own K2 summit photos, to help the reader visualize the mountain, climbers, and the camps much better. Reservations aside, this book, laden with detail, contains invaluable information and remembrances. Highly recommended. Five WHITE KNUCKLED Stars! (Uncorrected paperback proof; 332 pages) *Amended 4/12/10 because the author has included photographs in the final product based on the Amazon product description. Five Stars!!*
26 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 "Base camp" for beginning your study of the history of climbing K2 4 octobre 2009
Par John H. Henderson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I am reviewing a preproduction uncorrected proof. Some of the criticism may not apply to the final version.

The primary author of K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain is Ed Viesturs. In 2005, Viesturs was the first American to summit all 14 of the world's 8000ers - mountains over 8000 meters high - and has been a part of 30 expeditions to 8000ers. He's summited Everest seven times and was a member of the 1996 Everest IMAX movie team. He has been climbing for 32 years, and began guiding on Mt. Rainier in 1987. It's also notable that he has survived to write about it.

This book discusses seven of the most notable expeditions to K2:

(1) August 2008 - Notable because 11 climbers perished in a 36 hour period. Also notable because of the recency and the amount of publicity this event received.
(2) The author's 1996 first summit of K2 with Scott Fischer, detailed also in Viestur's No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks.
(3) 1938 - The first American expedition to K2. Some believed the expedition to primarily be a reconnoitering mission for an expedition the following year, but the climbers made in within 2250 feet of the peak. Chronicled in Five Miles High.
(4) 1938 - The second American expedition to K2 led by Fritz Weissner. Wiessner and Pasang Lama came within 750 feet of the summit. A logistics breakdown prevented another summit attempt and resulted in the loss of four lives. Detailed in K2: The 1939 Tragedy.
(5) The 1953 American expedition - Expeditions did not occur during the World War II years, and the 1947 split of Pakistan from India resulted in no permits being issued for a number of years. The carefully chosen team only reached 25,800 feet when they were required to return to base camp in an attempt to save team member Art Gilkey who had developed thrombophlebitis in the leg which subsequently led to a pulmonary embolism. Gilkey's life was lost in an avalanche before he could be returned to base. Detailed in K2, The Savage Mountain: The Classic True Story of Disaster and Survival on the World's Second-Highest Mountain.
(6) The 1954 Italian expedition which resulted in the first summit of K2 by Lacedelli and Compagnoni - The expedition was extremely large by all measures. So was the controversy surrounding the summit. Detailed in Ascent of K2: Second Highest Peak in the World.
(7) 1986 expeditions involving 11 teams - Notable because more climbers were lost this season than any other when 13 perished. Seven climbers summitted, of which only two survived. Detailed in K2: Triumph and Tragedy.

As seen by the references to other works, all of these missions were detailed elsewhere. However, I feel that what Viesturs mainly brings to the table, in addition to his own expertise as a mountaineer, is decades of additional information about these expeditions since these works were written. Most of these works were written by team members if not by the leaders themselves, and can certainly be colored by their own interpretation. In several cases, diaries of other team members have become available years later. Also, attitudes may have been different at the time of the writing of these books than today. For example, the author suggests that some of the criticism levelled against Wiessner by Kauffman and Putman was due to the prevailing attitude toward Germans in the years leading up to World War II. Wiessner was German-born although a naturalized US citizen. Viesturs' experience also comes into play. When Putnam and Kauffman assert that certain procedures were standard in mountaineering, for example, that the leader always leads from the rear, the author gives copious counterexamples to reject their assertion.

Viesturs never purports that this book is from the view of a detached journalist. It is made clear when he is expressing his opinion, and the book is filled with "I" and "me," although not to an egotistical extent. I consider this advantagous in that you know that the author is expressing his opinion. The author, by his own admission, claims to be a conservative climber, and says that his own summit of K2 was tarnished in his mind by his pushing ahead when his gut told him not to. He felt that he was lucky to have survived. The downside is that the author could be interjecting his own opinion as much as the authors of the other books that he is sometimes countering. However, with this experience, I have no reason to doubt him. Although he does give his opinion of what went wrong is some of these expeditions, he also says he's slow to question decisions made by people in those situations at the time. Overall, I thought Viesturs' presentation was very balanced.

As for my criticisms, I am no climbing expert, but know a few terms - crampon, self-arrest, etc. Others were new to me - couloir, traverse, serac. There's no reason that this book would not be popular for a very general audience, and I feel that the authors could have tailored it a little better for a general audience by spending a dozen sentences to provide short definitions of mountaineering terms. The book had two very crude charcoal drawings of the mountain. I don't know if these will remain in the final edition, but I wished for something much more detailed. I found a great poster on the internet that helped me see the routes and key points from the various expeditions, but I hoped this book would stand alone. I also yearned for some photos of key points so I could picture them better - House's Chimney, the Motivator, the Bottleneck, etc. The cover of the proof indicated that the final book will contain 16 black and white photos and 12 full color photos. The proof does not contain these, so I don't know if they satisfy my desire. As a final point, the MSRP seems a bit on the high side for a general interest book such as this that should appeal to such a wide audience.

The author mentions several other books in this book. For the benefit of the review reader, they are The Ascent of Everest, Annapurna, In the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods, The Last Step: The American Ascent of K2, Brotherhood of the Rope: The Biography of Charles Houston (Legends and Lore), and K2: The Story of the Savage Mountain. (Amazon, after encouraging the use of product links, has limited the number to ten, so you'll have to search for the last few yourself.)

In summary, K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain is a great jumping-off point for a study of the attempts to conquer K2, providing not only the references for more detailed study, but also providing additional background to make the studying of those references more profitable.
15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Great stories begging for an editor 22 juillet 2010
Par Jeannette Belliveau - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
Like other reviewers here, I'm a bit of an addict for mountaineering books, because of their inherent drama. in "K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain," I found myself completely lost in places however, not sure whether we were in a recent story of Viesturs on K2, a flashback to an earlier climb, a historical look at another expedition or just where exactly. This is the first mountaineering book in a while that I struggled to finish due to this confusion.

It may be that others with more familiarity with mountaineering history won't have as much as a snag as I did; or it may be that my background as a lifelong professional editor and writer had me frustrated at the organizational problems in "K2." Still, this is a book that would have been improved by either artful editing to create logical transitions, a simpler structure, or graphical elements to help us know what year we are in at all times.
21 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 If you have "mountain lust" you'll like this book! 27 septembre 2009
Par MusingCrow - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I love mountains and I love reading about mountaineering. I generally enjoy Ed Viestur's writings about his adventures on the world's highest mountains and this book, written with David Roberts, is no exception. The authors describe the history of K2 expeditions which is an enthralling bit of history. At times, however, the book can become a bit confusing when more than one expedition is referenced on a single page. I had to stop and think about which climb was which. Confusing, but not a 'deal breaker. I would prefer to have photographs - there are a few hand drawn sketches, but no photographs. I am a visual person and my preference is for a books with photographs. All in all I recommend this book for folks who, like me, enjoy climbing vicariously and for anyone who enjoys a good " adventuring".
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