Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest

( 8 )


In May 1996 three expeditions attempted to climb Mount Everest on the Southeast Ridge route pioneered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Crowded conditions slowed their progress. Late in the day twenty-three men and women-including expedition leaders Scott Fischer and Rob Hall-were caught in a ferocious blizzard. Disoriented and out of oxygen, climbers struggled to find their way down the mountain as darkness approached. Alone and climbing blind, Anatoli Boukreev brought climbers back from the edge...

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In May 1996 three expeditions attempted to climb Mount Everest on the Southeast Ridge route pioneered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Crowded conditions slowed their progress. Late in the day twenty-three men and women-including expedition leaders Scott Fischer and Rob Hall-were caught in a ferocious blizzard. Disoriented and out of oxygen, climbers struggled to find their way down the mountain as darkness approached. Alone and climbing blind, Anatoli Boukreev brought climbers back from the edge of certain death. This new edition includes a transcript of the Mountain Madness expedition debriefing recorded five days after the tragedy, as well as G. Weston DeWalt's response to Into Thin Air author Jon Krakauer.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Powerful...a breath of brisk, sometimes bitter clarity...Boukreev did the one thing that denies the void. He took action. He chose danger, and he saved lives." —The New York Times Book Review

"Boukreev heroically rescued several climbers from certain death...[The Climb] gives an excellent account of the May 1996 disaster." —Chicago Tribune

"Compelling...[The Climb] has a ring of authenticity that challenges the slickly written Into Thin Air." —Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Provocative...compelling reading, both as an adventure and a spiritual reckoning." —The New Mexican

"Boukreev acted with extraordinary heroism...[In The Climb] first-person anecdotes, plus excerpts from taped base-camp interviews, are skillfully fleshed out by coauthor G. Weston DeWalt." —Rock & Ice Magazine

Weaving together first-hand accounts by the head tour guide of the Mountain Madness expedition and an investigative narrative based on interviews with other expedition members and mountain climbing specialists, the authors explore the conditions that led to the May, 1996 disaster on Everest. The authors counter many of the claims that were made in Jon Krakauer's , written on the same subject.
Kirkus Reviews
Mountain guide Boukreev tells his version of the events of the May 1996 Mt. Everest disaster, in which five climbers died, in an effort to clear his name of damning allegations made in Jon Krakauer's bestselling Into Thin Air. Boukreev is well known in climbing circles as a good, tough, experienced guide, not especially personable or given to pampering the clients, but utterly reliable, especially in tight situations. So it came as a shock when Krakauer called into question Boukreev's behavior on that fateful day: Why had the guide raced down the mountain before his clients? Was it because he was improperly dressed and climbing without supplemental oxygen? Was it true he 'cut and ran' when needed most, as charged by a Boukreev client whom Krakauer quotes? Boukreev provides a detailed history of his team's expedition (the book is told as an alternating duet, with Boukreev doing the play-by-play and investigative filmmaker DeWalt handling long swaths of color commentary), of the things that went right on the climb and the many that went wrong, as well as a minute examination of his climbing philosophy. And he successfully parries Krakauer's accusations: He was appropriately dressed and has photos to prove it; he climbs without supplemental oxygen because he feels it makes him stronger, not weaker, especially in situations where oxygen runs out; and, indeed, oxygen was fast running out for his clients, which is why he hurried down, with the consent of his team's leader, to be prepared to ferry tanks back up if needed. Not that the book is without its own glitches, such as inconsistency ('You can receive a lot more information observing the clients' external appearance' and'Appearances meant nothing'). Such a pall of anger and defensiveness hangs over Boukreev's account that only those with a personal interest in his reputation will find much solace in his story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312206376
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1999
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 279,618
  • Product dimensions: 6.92 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Anatoli Boukreev was one of the world's foremost high-altitude mountaineers. Twenty-one times he went to 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. He died in an avalanche while climbing in Nepal on December 25,1997.

G. Weston Dewalt is a writer and a documentary filmmaker whose work has been aired on PBS. He divides his time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and London.

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Read an Excerpt


Tragic Ambitions on Everest
By Anatoli Boukreev

Rebound by Sagebrush

Copyright © 1998 Anatoli Boukreev
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780613125796



A star, one that didn't belong, appeared in the night sky over the Himalaya in March 1996. For several consecutive days the star had been moving over the mountains, its trailing tail fanning into the darkness. The "star" was the comet Hyakutake. It was the beginning of the spring season on Mount Everest (8,848 m), that interval of time between the decline of winter and the coming of the summer monsoons when, historically, expeditions to Everest have been most successful, and Hyakutake's stellar trespass was considered an ominous sign by the Sherpas in whose villages the cosmic smear was a matter of concern and conversation.

The Sherpas, an ethnic group indigenous to Tibet, many of whom now live primarily in the highland valleys of Nepal, derive a substantial part of their family incomes from the mountaineering expeditions that come to the Himalaya. Some work as porters, cooks, and yak drivers; others take on the more dangerous and more lucrative roles as high-altitude support personnel, joining foreign expeditions in their ultimate wager: skill and endurance pitted against a physical environment that precludes prolongedhuman existence.

By 1996, in the seventy-five years that had passed since the first attempt was made on its summit in 1921, more than 140 climbers had died on Mount Everest. Almost 40 percent of those fatalities had been Sherpas. So, when the natural orders were disturbed, the Sherpas took notice.

Kami Noru Sherpa is in his midthirties, married, and the father of three children. He is one of the new generation of Sherpas who have, since the 1950s, exchanged their traditional dress for Gore-Tex parkas and embraced the cash economy of mountaineering. In 1996, as he had been for the past several years, Kami Noru Sherpa was hired by Himalayan Guides, a commercial adventure company based in Edinburgh, Scotland, to serve as a sirdar (manager) for an Everest expedition.

Headed by the bearded and burly Englishman Henry Todd a fifty-one-year-old former rugby player turned expedition packager, Himalayan Guides had the distinction of never having lost a client. Todd's practicality and good luck in the mountains and his cooperative relationship with Kami Noru Sherpa had brought them both a measure of success in the Himalaya.

In the spring of 1995, Todd had offered a commercial expedition to Mount Everest, taking his client climbers to the mountain from the north side, from Tibet. The expedition had been an unqualified success. Eight climbers from his expedition had made it to the top on a single day. After such success, Todd and Kami Noru Sherpa were riding high, but not to the point of overconfidence. In fact, in March 1996, they were both anxious about the season ahead.

Kami Noru Sherpa had pointed out the errant "star" to Todd, and Todd recalls that Kami was disturbed by its presence. When Todd asked Kami Noru Sherpa what it meant to him and the other Sherpas, Kami said simply, "We don't know. We're not liking it."

"It [the comet] had been there for some time," said Todd, "and for the Sherpas it presaged things not going terribly well." A superstition, yes, thought Todd, but a matter of serious concern, because the people who knew the mountain best said it mattered.

To the uncertain meaning of the stellar disruption Todd could add his own problem. As of late March the winter snows had yet to melt to the point where his yak caravan could safely travel the trekking trail that led to the Mount Everest Base Camp (5,300 m). Some Sherpa porters were getting through on a narrow snow-packed trail, but hardly anyone else. Since the quantity of supplies required by expeditions requires the carrying power and capacity of yak teams, the pace of his supply effort had been slowed considerably. It was a headache, not yet a nightmare, but a problem that could grow to that proportion if the trails remained impassable for much longer. The weather window for attempts on the Everest summit stays open only for a brief period and closes abruptly with the coming of the monsoon season. If expeditions are not adequately provisioned when the time for their summit bid arrives, they might as well have never traveled to the mountain.

As almost everyone does in the face of an uncertainty, Todd and Kami Noru Sherpa took actions that might forestall or minimize the problems that each of them faced. In Kathmandu, Nepal (1,400 m), where he was addressing an accumulation of logistical problems and waiting for snows north of him to further melt, Todd took delivery of several cases of J & B Scotch, a gift from one of his climbers who had been sponsored, in part, by the distillery. Giving careful packing instructions to his Sherpas who would be freighting the spirits to his Base Camp, Todd more than half-anticipated some nights when the libation might serve to take off the edge. Kami Noru Sherpa, not a Scotch drinker, prepared for what was ahead in his own way.

On March 29, in his slate-roofed stone house in Pangboche (4,000 m), a village niched into a series of terraces overlooking the trekking trail that winds to the base of Mount Everest, Kami Noru Sherpa held a puja, a ritual thanks to the mountains and a prayer of blessing. At sunrise, in a large, second-floor room above a grain storage area, five Buddhist monks in maroon and saffron robes seated themselves in a circle. Encircling them were Kami Noru Sherpa and several other of the Sherpas from Pangboche who had been hired to work on Everest. A wavering, pale yellow glow from yak-butter lamps and a few stray beams of morning sun offered the only light, nicking here and there the weave of reds and blues in the Tibetan rugs on the handsawn plank floors. Spirals of smoke drifted from a cooking fire, and the rich, sweet smell of juniper branches escaped as they were burnt in offering.

The chants of the monks played off the walls and echoed back into their repetition, and with every redoubling came a calm and peace, an assurance that, if the Sherpas honored it, the mountain would protect them and deliver them home. As the puja ended, the monks gave each of the Sherpas a protective amulet, a knotted loop of red string. With quiet reverence and a bow of thanks, each of them accepted the gift and placed the string around their necks.

Over the next few days, as the snows continued to melt, Kami Noru Sherpa and the Sherpas would leave their homes and trek to the Everest Base Camp, where they would join the expeditions that had hired them. Working for anywhere from $2.50 to $50 a day, they would help establish camps, carry loads up the mountain, and cook for and serve the climbers who were coming to Everest in ever greater numbers.

In the early 1980s the number of climbers and expedition support personnel who would gather in the Everest Base Camp during the spring season could have fit into one Paris metro car. In 1996, more than four hundred people would eventually come up the trail and pitch their tents, giving the camp the appearance of a rock concert encampment. One climber described the 1996 Everest Base Camp as having all the appearances of "a circus, except there were more clowns in our tents." By many accounts, there were some real "punters" on the mountain in 1996.

A Taiwanese expedition headed by Makalu Gau was the source of endless jokes, which thinly veiled serious concerns about his team's qualifications and their ability to get off the mountain alive. One climber said, "I'd as soon have been on the mountain with the Jamaican bobsled team." And then there was the Johannesburg Sunday Times Expedition, which had publicly been embraced by Nelson Mandela. Stories about the relative inexperience of many of their climbers and questions about the veracity of their wiry and short-tempered leader, Ian Woodall, were roundly exchanged over Henry Todd's Scotch.

American climber and Everest veteran Ed Viesturs was heard to say, "A lot of people are up here who shouldn't be." Viesturs, thirty-seven, was working as a guide and doubling as an on-camera talent for the MacGillivray Freeman IMAX/IWERKS Expedition, headed by the American climber and filmmaker David Breashears. The film production, with one of the largest budgets ever committed to a documentary about Everest, was to result in a large-format film to be released in 1998. Designed to be projected in theaters outfitted with wraparound screens and state-of-the-art sound systems, the film would offer virtual, armchair Everest.

Breashears, in his early forties, was something of a legend in the Himalaya. More than any other climber, except for perhaps Sir Edmund Hillary, who with Tenzing Norgay summited Mount Everest for the first time in 1953, Breashears had been successful in making Everest a cash cow, deriving over the years a substantial portion of his income from his activities on the mountain. In 1985, he had the distinction of having guided Texas businessman and millionaire Dick Bass to the summit. Bass, at fifty-five, became the oldest climber to date to make the top. This accomplishment is seen by many as the pivotal point in the history of attempts to climb Everest. The adventuresome and the well-to-do took notice. If a fifty-five-year-old with motivation and discretionary income could do it, anybody could! Commercial expedition companies were spawned to address the demand that was stimulated and to service customers who could pay big dollars for big mountains.

As Breashears and his IMAX/IWERKS expeditionary force trekked toward the Everest Base Camp, they made an impression. Not far from Kami Noru Sherpa's house in Pangboche, several members of the expedition had stopped at a teahouse and occupied some of its tables. They ordered tea, but refused the offer of local food, preferring instead home-bought goodies pulled from expedition bags. One veteran at the Everest Base Camp who found the team a little too coiffed and cool referred to them as the "Gucci guys."

Tenting nearby the IMAX/IWERKS Expedition at the Everest Base Camp were Henry Todd's Himalayan Guides expedition and several other commercial expeditions that, like Todd's, had brought paying clients to the mountain. Among the "dollar dogs," as one Everest chronicler has privately labeled commercial expedition members, was the Adventure Consultants Guided Expedition, headed by New Zealander Rob Hall.

Hall, black bearded and imposing with a "Lincolnesque" appearance, had an intensity and quiet reserve that made many think he was much older than his thirty-five years. Since 1990, when his company began taking expeditions to Everest, Hall had taken a record thirty-nine climbers (clients and expedition personnel combined) to the top of Everest. His company's "adverts" that ran in international climbing magazines were large, alluring, and not immodest. One that appeared in early 1995 read: "100% Success! Send for Our Free Color Brochure." One hundred percent that is until May 1995, when he turned all of his clients back from their bid to the summit as deep snows at higher elevations had slowed their progress. Nobody had made the summit.

In 1996, Rob Hall was back, ready to go again, determined, if he could, to get back into the win column. The pressure was on. Success, not turnarounds, brought in new business, and there was an additional challenge in 1996: a new competitor in the game.

Scott Fischer from West Seattle, Washington, was coming to the mountain. Six foot four with a chiseled, symmetrical face and long, flowing blond hair, he ran his West Seattle, Washington-based adventure company, Mountain Madness, as an extension of his personal ambition: to climb mountains around the world and to have a hell of a time doing it.

With his talent, good looks, and charm, he was a prime candidate for mountaineering's poster boy. He had a charismatic personality with the drawing power of an industrial magnet. He could attract clients, motivate them, get them to commit, to write their checks and pack their rucksacks. He was a contender, but new to the business of guiding a commercial expedition to Mount Everest.

His motivation for becoming an Everest "dollar dog," one of his business associates has said, was fairly simple: "I think that he looked at Rob Hall's success and thought ... 'If he can do it, I can do it.' And not in a competitive macho way, but just saying, 'Hey, I'm a really great climber. Why can't I do it, too? ... I'll get clients and I'll go, too.'" Go, too, and make the money, too.

Mountain Madness's former general manager, Karen Dickinson, described the company's decision to package expeditions to Everest as "kind of the ultimate in high-altitude mountaineering. There was a demand from our clients that we wanted to service or else lose them to the competition. If it goes well, it could be very lucrative, so there was a financial motivation. Of course, I can't stress enough that you're equally as likely to lose your shirt.... It's just a high-stakes game financially."

Fischer was focused on the potential of the big rewards that could come from running a successful expedition. He had been thinking about changing his life. Karen Dickinson said, "He had turned forty the year before; his business had finally gotten to where he wanted.... He'd climbed K2 [8,611 m]; he'd climbed Everest; he was established as a successful guide.... He was talking about maybe he wouldn't go back to the summit of Everest again, that he would hire people to do that."

The plan had been loosely sketched, little more than casual conversations between Fischer and Dickinson, but those who knew him best said Fischer was giving more consideration to shaking things up. His personal life, his role in the company, his public persona, everything was up for midlife review.

Fischer had worked at developing the Mountain Madness business since the early 1980s, but it had never consistently provided him a good, steady income. Climbing had been his thing; the business had enabled that, but he'd never been a headliner, had never played in the big tent. A commercial success on Everest, he knew, could considerably alter the picture. If he could draw enough clients at $65,000 apiece (Hall's asking price), and if he could build a successful big-mountain expedition schedule, he could solve a lot of problems, finance a lot of change.

Part of the challenge in his birthing a new direction was his lack of international visibility. He didn't have the reputation of many of the other players in high-altitude mountaineering who graced the covers and pages of climbing magazines and equipment catalogs. As his efforts as an expedition leader had progressed, his personal climbing career had taken a back seat. He had come to feel, as one friend put it, "that he wasn't getting his due in the media ... the press didn't treat him fairly, that he wasn't respected; his name wasn't really brought up much; he wanted to be recognized."

His difficulty, as some of those around him saw it, was his image: accomplished climber, instructor, guide, and photographer, yes, but also swashbuckling, devil-may-care, good-time guy. These characterizations made for a certain kind of notoriety, but it wasn't the kind of image that made the big-dollar clients comfortable or drew the lucrative Fortune 500 sponsorships. He was, for that league, perhaps too "dicey." A successful Everest expedition, one with a lot of visibility, could "skew the do."

Working the phones from their West Seattle office, Dickinson, Fischer, and their staff massaged the client list to promote their expedition, and they mailed out hundreds of promotional brochures, two-color productions that had the graphic allure of a lawn-mower operator's manual. They didn't have the luster or panache of Rob Hall's advertising, but they were on the street with the word: "Climbers on the 1996 team will get a crack at the highest mountain in the world.... We'll build a pyramid of camps, each stocked from the one below. The guides and high-altitude Sherpa staff will fix rope, establish and stock camps, and provide leadership for all summit attempts. Climbers will carry light loads, saving their strength for the summit."

For Fischer's competitors in the Everest game, it was not good news to hear that he'd decided to move into the market. Fischer's easygoing style and his efforts in packaging expeditions to the remotest destinations in Africa, South America, and Asia had attracted a lot of customers from around the world, and his success, if it came, would be especially problematic for Rob Hall, who had been incredibly successful in recruiting American clients for his Everest expeditions.


In an effort to generate more press for both Mountain Madness and himself, Fischer and his staff trolled for media attention as aggressively as they did for client climbers, and early on in their efforts they had a bite, one that promised a serious opportunity.

Outside, the leading outdoor-recreation magazine in the United States, wanted to sponsor a climber-writer, Jon Krakauer, a Seattle-based journalist and best-selling author whom they were commissioning to write a feature article on the boom in commercial expeditions to Mount Everest. They wanted to buy a slot on Fischer's team for Krakauer, but they wanted a deal, a good deal.

Keen to the opportunity that having such an accomplished journalist on their roster could bring, Mountain Madness aggressively worked the executives of Outside. They explored a variety of trades and exchanges that would work to each organization's advantage and kept the heat turned up. A business associate of Fischer's recalled, "Karen [Dickinson] was just lighting a fire right and left underneath Outside, saying, 'Yeah!'"

Negotiations went well, and Fischer was excited about the potential relationship. In exchange for a discounted price to Outside, Mountain Madness was lobbying for advertising space and a feature story, replete with color photos, that they hoped would contain precious promotional prose. Krakauer was enthusiastic, too, telling one of Fischer's associates that he wanted to climb with Scott's team because Scott's team actually had better climbers and that Scott was a local guy and an interesting character.

This, Fischer thought, could be the press he was looking for, coverage in a major, mass-market magazine whose demographics had the clusters of "Beemers" and backpackers who could afford big-mountain prices. Dickinson remembered, "There was a long period where we really thought that Jon was going to be on our trip.... And we sort of held open a slot for him, thinking that was his, and we were negotiating heavily with Outside about how the payment might look ... a combination of advertising and just writing us a check."

But, a Mountain Madness associate recalled, "They were nickel-and-diming her [Dickinson] and basically wanted, I think, Mountain Madness to pick up the whole tab, not just have him go for cost, but less than cost, so Mountain Madness would be going out-of-pocket to have somebody on the climb. You know, come on, get real! ... So, at a certain point, Outside went to Rob [Hall] and said, 'Okay, what will you give it to us for?' and Rob said, 'Less than that.' Bingo!" At the eleventh hour Outside bought Krakauer's ticket from Adventure Consultants.

A spokesperson for Outside, recalling the magazine's decision to take Hall's offer, said they did not select Adventure Consultants "solely for financial reasons" but had also taken into consideration that Rob Hall had "consistently more experience guiding on Everest, more of a track record in terms of safety, and according to Jon Krakauer, a better oxygen system."

Fischer was enraged by Outside's decision, saying, "God, it's typical of the media. Typical bullshit." A friend of his remembered Fischer's "paint-peeling" response: "He just thought it was really screwed of Outside to take this idea and run with it, and ... getting all this information from Karen [Dickinson] and then just for a difference of maybe a thousand bucks--I don't know what it was, but it probably wasn't a huge amount--and going with Rob."

Exit one opportunity, enter another, perhaps a better one. Mountain Madness was able to sign on Sandy Hill Pittman, forty, a Contributing Editor to Allure and to Conde Nast Traveler. Already Pittman had climbed the highest mountain on six of seven continents, but Everest had eluded her. On two previous climbs, one of them guided by David Breashears of the IMAX/IWERKS team, she had turned back before the summit.

Pittman was a prize. She had more high-altitude experience than Krakauer, and she had an agreement with NBC Interactive Media to do a daily feed to a World Wide Web site (, and if Fischer could get her to the top, he would have publicity that a Pope in the pulpit couldn't buy. But, he had to get her to the top, and Fischer knew that.

"I think that first Scott saw her as somebody, kind of a plum," said a friend of Fischer's. "If he gets her to the top, whew! ... She'll write about him; she'll talk about him; she'll carry him on the wave of good fortune she's had." But, if he didn't, he could have a publicity fiasco. An associate has said she could imagine Pittman saying, "It was Scott Fischer; it was Scott Fischer. He wouldn't let me climb; I could have climbed."


To get his clients to the top, Fischer had secured the services of three guides and promoted their commitment to his potential clients. In his promotional literature he identified the expedition guides as Nazir Sabir of Pakistan, a veteran guide and expedition packager who had climbed several 8,000-meter peaks; Neal Beidleman, an aerospace engineer, a climber, and ultra-marathon runner from Aspen, Colorado; and Anatoli Boukreev.

Boukreev, thirty-eight, a Russian citizen and resident of Almaty, Kazakhstan, was considered one of the world's foremost high-altitude mountain climbers. By spring 1996 he had climbed seven of the most challenging of the globe's 8,000ers (some of them more than once), and all of those he had climbed without the use of supplementary oxygen.


Excerpted from Climb by Anatoli Boukreev Copyright © 1998 by Anatoli Boukreev. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Mountain Madness 1
Ch. 2 The Everest Invitation 13
Ch. 3 Doing the Deals 25
Ch. 4 The Clients 36
Ch. 5 The Trail to Everest 42
Ch. 6 Doing the Details 50
Ch. 7 Base Camp 58
Ch. 8 Khumbu to Camp II 64
Ch. 9 Camp II 77
Ch. 10 The First Delays 86
Ch. 11 Toward the Push 98
Ch. 12 The Countdown 109
Ch. 13 Into the Death Zone 121
Ch. 14 To the South Summit 133
Ch. 15 The Last Hundred 143
Ch. 16 Decision and Descent 151
Ch. 17 Snowblind 160
Ch. 18 Walk or Crawl 170
Ch. 19 The Rescue Transcript 182
Ch. 20 The Last Attempt 199
Ch. 21 Mountain Media Madness 206
Afterword 225
Epilogue: The Return to Everest 230
Postscript 251
In Memory 255
Everest Update: A Response to Jon Krakauer 261
A Review from the American Alpine Journal 299
Mountain Madness Everest Debriefing: A Transcript 304
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Customer Reviews

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( 8 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2000

    Anatoli is a hero to me

    As i was reading this book i began to fill like i knew toli. no matter what other people who were on everest in 1996 say i belive that Anatoli was the hero. he risked his on life so that others could live. I think Jon krakaur was so wrong in many of his statments and his book out rages me. I was deeply touched by anatoli's book and as a person who plans on climbing everest, Anatoli is a hero and role model to me. he will be remembered as a hero.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2005

    What really happened

    This is an amazing read. The account of the often discredited Boukreev is definetely what really happened. Krauker's version is definetely twisted to take some blame off himself. The facts show it even better than the book. Anatoli saved ALL his clients and only one person died on his expidition. Krakauer's expidition had the most fatalaties. Anatoli rescued people with astonishing one man rescue heroics. Jon crawled into a sleeping bag. I'm not trying to discredit Krakauer either, he is a great climber. But Anatoli's rescues during the 1996 Everest disaster are more than notable, and this account rings true. To down-play his heroics with unproovable speculated and some of which have been prooved wrong speculations is a very sad thought. The Climb delivers the true story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2002

    Pathetic attempt to justify negligence

    Mr. DeWalt and the late Mr. Bourkreev offer a pathetic attempt to justify the unjustifiable (that of leaving clients stranded in a hurricane on the summit of Everest) and discredit Jon Krakauer, the journalist who summited Everest in the 1996 disaster. I'm not sorry I read it, I just find it totally unbelievable.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommend

    This is in some ways a counterpoint to Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air," and while I believe that there is no way to tell who is most accurate - Krakauer does admit to disorientation and confusion - it is worthwhile to read both with that in mind. Bourkeev gives a fantastically interesting account of the tragic events in those few days, and being more experienced in climbing, presents, I think, an informative perspective.

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  • Posted May 27, 2012

    Read this book as a supplement to Into Thin Air. You will be sho

    Read this book as a supplement to Into Thin Air. You will be shocked. Boukreev is the true climber and the reputable source if you speak to anyone in the climbing community. Krakauer was the tourist. This book is more difficult too read but you will learn the truth.

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  • Posted December 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reading this will change you for the better

    It is a story of maximum courage and sacrifice, that doesn't shy away from explaining the what and way behind the leadership decisions that must be made in one the most extreme environments on earth.

    How many men alive could have even come close to saving the lives that Anatoli Boukreev saved on the ill-fated 1996 expeditions?

    After reading his side of the story, it is sad to me that his integrity was so maligned by John Krakauer in his book "Into Thin Air." Exhausting the limits of one's physical ability on Everest by rescuing lives, especially in the absence of adequate provisions of oxygen, is nothing to be slammed for.

    I am glad that I got to know Anatoli Boukreev through this book; for this knowing makes me a more well-rounded person.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    Well written

    This book is a great read if you have ever read "Into Thin Air". The book mainly focuses on what Anatoli viewed and his experience and only the last part of it seems to be attacking "Into Thin Air". If you have read "Into Thin Air" this is a must read. Overall just a good book.

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  • Posted May 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent!! Thrilling!

    This book was very good and provided an accurate depiction of the events of the 1996 Everest Expedition. This book is factual and fair. I read Into Thin Air and felt that Kraukauer was trying to assuage his survivor's guilt by blaming Boukreev. The only villian in the 1996 expedition was Mount Everest. Needless to say the only climbing I'll be doing is the stairs!! A highly recommended Read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2008

    Missing the big picture

    This book was excellent. Into Thin Air was also excellent. Anyone who criticizes Anatoli Boukreev is ignoring a very clear fact: All of the clients he was responsible for guiding survived. Questionable decisions were made by ALL parties involved yet Anatoli seems to get the brunt of the abuse. It was a tragedy, simple as that. Into Thin Air and The Climb are nothing more than the same story told from different points of view. Does anyone expect every detail to be the same? Read both books, enjoy them, but remember the only villain is the mountain itself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2006

    The other side of a well-known story

    Every story has two sides. In this book, readers of Jon Krakauer's best selling Into Thin Air can hear the other side of that particular tale. It's my opinion that no one ought to read one without also reading the other. On May 10, 1996, a winter storm decided to attack the world's highest mountain in spring. Caught in the well-named Death Zone, so high above sea level that the bodies of climbers who linger there literally start to die, the members of two commercial expeditions fought desperately for survival. The leaders of both teams - New Zealander Rob Hall, and American Scott Fischer - died despite being world-class mountaineers and Everest veterans. So did three members of Hall's team, while a fourth barely got off the mountain alive. All of the Fischer guides and clients survived, though, and none suffered the kind of horrific frostbite that left Hall client Beck Weathers both maimed and disfigured. Why did things turn out so differently for the two teams, after both lost their leaders? Krakauer's book offers one answer. This book, co-authored by Scott Fischer's head guide, offers quite another. Neither Anatoli Boukreev nor his co-author possesses Krakauer's well-honed journalistic skills. This is a much plainer work, in many ways and it's definitely less readable. I found it just as compelling, though, and it's rich in source material. Thank goodness Boukreev completed it before his death, because his side of the story is well worth hearing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2006

    Oh Please

    I have read 'Into thin air' , 'Scots last voyage', 'K2 triumph and tragedy' , 'No shortcuts to the top, climbing the worlds 14 highest peaks' and all 3 books of the 'Everest series'. I have also bagged my fair share of peaks which include all of the california fourteeners , denali , hood , all of the colorado fourteeners , brown tower , mount blackburn,white mountain , as well as 2 atempts on Sagamartha ( Everest) and 1 summit of Cho Oyu and 1 attempt on K2, I have also completed both the appalachian trail from end to end as the pacific crest trail from end to end. I now own a guid business and I have been a guide for almost 15 years. Upon reading 'Into thin air' by John Krakauer i felt compelled to see the other side of the story and i still feel the same as i did before i read Boukreev's book , he should have never left his clients in the first place , if he would have stayed with his clients perhaps he would have died as well but still , he shouldnt have left his clients. I feel that the attacking of the climbers that were on both summit teams. It was a freaked accident , weather turns bad and you have to know whent to turn around , if the turn around times were enforced and followed then this accident would have been aviodable. Both books are great if you dont have alot of knowledge in mountaineering. Very suspensfull and somewhat informative , the book seemed to do nothing but try to mudsling other books out there.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2006

    No plans for me to go to Everest!

    I ordered THE CLIMB and found it very interesting from the 'human perspective.' I couldn't have done what these people did and I pulled for each member to survive. I felt there were heroes and no villains. The last few pages are in response to Krakauer's book, but the majority of the book is just another viewpoint of a compelling storing--especially when you consider only one climber was able to summit and then have the energy to make several repeated searches for lost climbers, find them, and likely save their lives. I rated the book 4-stars because the primary text reads much better than the inserted text of interviews and quotes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2002

    A must if you enjoyed "Into thin air"

    Shortly after reading "Into Thin Air," which left me breathless, I discovered that Mr. Boukreev had written his own account of the disastrous '96 season. I read it immediately and was breathless again. Boukreev's account is not as polished as Krakauer's, nor, might I add, as melodramatic. However, it is just as riveting, and I believe if you read one, you owe it to yourself to read the other. "The Climb" is a fascinating read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2002

    E for Effort

    Poor Anatoli! Either he felt the need to justify his hurried decline to Camp IV that fateful day or someone was pressing him for his story. He only makes it sound worse in his accounts of the time he wasted running around from tent to tent trying to recruit people (who'd just staggered in) for hours till he finally decides to go out looking for the missing. This was his ostensible reason for hurriedly returning to the camp at 4:30pm--so he'd be rested if anyone got into trouble. By 11:30 he was still chatting up the sherpas. I'm glad I read it to get his side of the story. Not that I think Krakauer wrote the perfect account either. The truth is probably somewhere between these two

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2001


    Its hard to put in words how much this story of adventure touched me. It saddens me yet excites me and this story will always be something to remember. It has even inspired me to get into mountan climbing! A wonderful book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2000

    A read in truth

    Read this if you have any interest in finding out what really happened on May 10, 1996 on Everest. This book is a gripping account of the things that take place before and after the summit bid on that fateful day. Boukreev and DeWalt work hard to present information that is accurate and authentic.

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    Posted December 31, 2009

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    Posted February 14, 2010

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    Posted February 28, 2012

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