Above the Clouds: The Diaries of a High-Altitude Mountaineer

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When Anatoli Boukreev died on the slopes of Annapurna on Christmas day, 1997, the world lost one of the greatest adventurers of our time.

In Above the Clouds, both the man and his incredible climbs on Mt. McKinley, K2, Makalu, Manaslu, and Everest-including his diary entries on the infamous 1996 disaster, written shortly after his return-are immortalized. There also are minute technical details about the skill of mountain climbing, as well as personal reflections on what life ...

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2001 Hard cover New. No dust jacket. H/C No D/J-Book Is New Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 272 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

When Anatoli Boukreev died on the slopes of Annapurna on Christmas day, 1997, the world lost one of the greatest adventurers of our time.

In Above the Clouds, both the man and his incredible climbs on Mt. McKinley, K2, Makalu, Manaslu, and Everest-including his diary entries on the infamous 1996 disaster, written shortly after his return-are immortalized. There also are minute technical details about the skill of mountain climbing, as well as personal reflections on what life means to someone who risks it every day. Fully illustrated with gorgeous color photos, Above the Clouds is a unique and breathtaking look at the world from its most remote peaks.

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Editorial Reviews

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The Barnes & Noble Review
During his lifetime, Anatoli Boukreev climbed 11 of the world's 14 8,000-meter peaks. He set numerous speed records on solo ascents, and on group missions rescued countless climbers from the "death zone." Above the Clouds, a compilation of Boukreev's journal entries, unveils the rich interior life of the controversial Russian/Kazakh legend.

Followers of mountaineering literature are well acquainted with Boukreev. Jon Krakauer's 1997 bestseller, Into Thin Air, was critical of Boukreev's behavior during the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster. The Climb, Boukreev's own bestselling version of events, put a contrary spin on the ill-fated expedition.

Above the Clouds adds much-needed perspective on Boukreev's mountaineering life: The Everest disaster was not the first that he faced. So what possesses a climber to repeatedly put his life at risk? For Boukreev, it was simply a case of being more comfortable in the mountains than anywhere else. "I do not fear climbing high.... Down below, when I become immersed in the problems of ordinary life, there is fear sometimes."

Boukreev was nurtured by the school of Soviet mountaineering, a program that he believed "[compared] with the Soviet Union's great accomplishments in space exploration, science, and the discipline of Russian ballet." The school was disbanded with the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the loss of these cultural underpinnings left Boukreev ill at ease. He did not enjoy leading inexperienced climbers up Mt. Everest, but needed the commissions to fund his own projects.

In his journals, Boukreev shows great respect for Scott Fischer, the esteemed American mountaineer who perished high on Everest. Boukreev met his own maker on Christmas Day, 1997, when he was caught in an avalanche on the deadly slopes of Annapurna. He died in what was for him a holy place: "Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambitions to achieve. They are cathedrals, grand and pure, the houses of my religion.... In the mountains I celebrate creation, for on each journey I am reborn." (Brenn Jones)

Publishers Weekly
Born in Mayak, Russia, in 1958, Boukreev became one of the world's greatest mountain climbers. But while his accomplishments included 21 ascents of 11 of the world's 14 highest mountains, Boukreev became known to the general public only after his work as a guide on a disastrous Mt. Everest climb was described in less than glowing terms in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. Boukreev's coauthored bestselling account of the tragedy, The Climb, was an attempt to set the record straight. This new posthumous collection is a series of narratives Boukreev wrote between 1987 and his death climbing Annapurna in 1997; it stands as an excellent addition to The Climb and as one of the most revealing and tough-minded descriptions of the life of a mountain climber. Three themes dominate the essays: the spiritual beauty and power of the mountains, the increasing commercialization of mountain climbing and the necessity for rigorous training by people (pros and newcomers alike) who want to climb the big mountains. The accounts collected and edited by his companion Linda Wylie capture Boukreev's thoughts during an often troubled period: by 1989, at the height of his powers, Boukreev had received the highest sports honors in Soviet history, but when the Soviet Union collapsed, Boukreev was forced to move to America, where he made his living as a guide for wealthy patrons on private climbing adventures including the terrible Mt. Everest trip, which haunted him until he died. 32 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Nov. 16) Forecast: The bestselling status of Boukreev's first book as well as continuing interest in the 1996 attempt to climb Mt. Everest should promise sizable, serious readership. Copyright 2001 CahnersBusiness Information.
Library Journal
Readers familiar with the 1996 Everest disaster will likely remember Boukreev as the Russian climber vilified by Jon Krakauer in Into Thin Air (LJ 4/1/97). Boukreev responded later that year with his version of the accident in his best-selling The Climb (LJ 11/1/97), coauthored by G. Weston DeWalt. Although somewhat hindered by his lack of English skills, Boukreev managed to create a large and dedicated circle of friends in the United States and elsewhere. In December 1997, he was killed in an avalanche while attempting a winter ascent of Annapurna. These narratives, originally written in Russian and collected and edited by his partner Linda Wylie, offer a look into the exclusive and dangerous world of high-altitude mountaineering and the unique training methods formerly practiced in the Soviet Union. One recurring theme is Boukreev's near-constant struggle to raise the large funds needed for expeditions when government funding dried up virtually overnight after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This work makes a nice companion piece to The Climb and contains a thoughtful, well-written foreword by climbing photographer Galen Rowell. Recommended for all mountaineering and larger public collections. Tim Markus, Evergreen State Coll. Lib., Olympia, WA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312269708
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/12/2001
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Anatoli Boukreev was (with G. Weston DeWalt) coauthor of The Climb and a world-renowned high-altitude mountaineer. Twenty-one times he reached the summit of the world's highest mountains. For his heroic actions on Mount Everest in May 1996, he was awarded the American Alpine Club's highest honor, the David A. Sowles Memorial Award.

Linda Wylie was Anatoli Boukreev's companion and is now executor of his estate.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2001

    A very amazing person.

    This is an epic tale of this mans life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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