Facing the Extreme: One Woman's Story of True Courage, Death-Defying Survival, and Her Quest for the Summit

Facing the Extreme: One Woman's Story of True Courage, Death-Defying Survival, and Her Quest for the Summit

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by Ruth Anne Kocour, Michael Hodgson
     
 

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She stepped into a death zone. The climbers on Alaska's Mt. McKinley called her "the woman." Ruth Anne Kocour, a world-class mountaineer, wasn't bothered. It was part of the challenge she faced as she joined an all-male team to conquer North America's highest peak...the mountain the Indians called Denali, or God.

Faced the extreme. But nine days into this ascent,

Overview

She stepped into a death zone. The climbers on Alaska's Mt. McKinley called her "the woman." Ruth Anne Kocour, a world-class mountaineer, wasn't bothered. It was part of the challenge she faced as she joined an all-male team to conquer North America's highest peak...the mountain the Indians called Denali, or God.

Faced the extreme. But nine days into this ascent, a forty-fifth birthday present to herself, the most violent weather on record slammed into the mountain. Ruth Anne and her group would be trapped on an ice shelf at 14,000 feet for the deadliest two weeks in Denali history. Pinned down by blinding snows, unable to help other teams dying around her, and her own feet freezing solid, Ruth Anne tells of a wind chill of minus 150 degrees, deadly hidden crevasses, and being trapped in a place so violent and unforgiving that it threatened to push her over the edge and into a place of no return. And yet, in prose as crystalline as the ice around her, she tells, too, of beauty, courage, and the spirit that drives true mountainers higher, as she risks all to go for the summit...and perhaps, for a transcendant moment, touch heaven.

And lived to tell about it.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Kocour passionately recounts how all ten members of her team survived the storm that took the lives of eleven other climbers."— Library Journal

"Facing the Extreme is not just another heroic climbing tale, rather a metaphor for anyone who has faced 'impossible' odds— and prevailed."— John Long, noted climber and author of Rock Jocks, Wall Rats, and Hang Dogs

"I could not put her book down; it kept me on the edge of my seat, even though I knew she made it back. I learned so much about courage and inner peace from Ruth Anne's accounts. A must read for all who want to grow."— Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, Associate Professor, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Library Journal
Kocour, a medical illustrator and veteran mountaineer, was part of a team that set out to climb Mt. McKinley, North America's highest peak, in 1992. This book, written with the assistance of outdoor author Hodgson, is the account of that harrowing experience. On the ninth day of the climb, the worst storm in recorded Alaskan history trapped the party at an elevation of 14,000 feet for 11 days, subjecting the climbers to raging winds of over 110 mph, temperatures plummeting to 47 degrees below zero, and snowdrifts that threatened to entomb them. Kocour passionately recounts how all ten members of her team survived the storm that took the lives of 11 other climbers on the mountain, and how, in fact, they ultimately reached the summit. Readers interested in climbing details will be disappointed, but those looking for a human adventure story of extreme physical and mental challenges will not be. Recommended for public libraries and special collections.Pamela W. Bellows, Northwestern Connecticut Community Technical Coll. Lib., Winsted

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312179427
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
12/15/1997
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.52(w) x 9.46(h) x 0.99(d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Anne Kocour is a veteran mountaineer with nine international summits under her belt (including Mt. McKinley, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Nevado Illimani, and Mt. Elbrus). She is an artist by avocation and lives in Galena, Nevada.

Michael Hodgson, a former mountain guide, is an editor for Outdoor Retailer magazine and also writes for Men's Health and Outside, to name a few. Like Ruth Anne, he continues to seek the wilder side of any mountain. This is his sixteenth book.

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Facing the Extreme; One Woman's Story of True Courage, Death-Defying Survival, and Her Quest for the Summit 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ben4 More than 1 year ago
In Facing the Extreme, an experienced female mountain climber decides to take on the tallest mountain in North America, Denali, with a group of nine, mostly inexperienced men. Nine days into their quest for the summit, the most violent weather system ever recorded on Denali pinned the group in a small camp at 14,000 feet, with winds regularly exceeding 110 mph and temperatures below minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The team fought through the deadliest two weeks in the history of the mountain. As the epic storm finally clears, the team is faced with a momentous decision, to retreat with their lives, or to take a final shot at reaching the summit they traveled so far to stand on. This book is an entertaining tale, especially for a reader who enjoys spending time in the mountains, of who just loves an intense, gripping tale of adventure. The most interesting part of the book are the numerous small segments where the author, Ruth Anne Kocour, goes into detail explaining the reasons that drive people to climb mountains. This concept is a very difficult one to grasp for people that do not feel it themselves, and it is interesting to see the author’s perspective on climbing, both before and after her experiences on Denali. The only thing that was a little bit disappointing was the lack of description as to the experiences and the outcome of the multiple other teams who were also trapped on the mountain during that record-breaking storm. Even without this, the progression in the mindset of the author was clear, as she went from climbing on get-away vacation, to climbing as dedicated enthusiast. Following the reading of this book, it is clear that any reader will view the mountains and the sport of climbing differently, as these things are not to be toyed with, but respectfully enjoyed. Other interesting climbing and mountain related non-fiction works are Into Thin Air and The Climb, which detail the famous 1996 climbing season on Mount Everest, or the novel of the movie, Touching the Void. Facing the Extreme is an intense tale of life and death on Denali, but would be rated at 3.5 out of 5, as there are simply some readers who will have no interest whatsoever in this book. By Ben Ammon
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book makes unintentionally hilarious reading for Denali climbers. The author is relentlessly disparaging of her team-mates and seems to spend most of her trip in abject fear and misery. May Bog preserve me from team-mates like this. Some exemplary quotes: On Vern: 'Vern's mouth, like the Energizer bunny, just kept going and going and going.' On foreign guides: 'One thing about flashy guide suits: they're wonderful about making sure the body gets found when the one wearing them appears to have flicked the off switch for his brain.' On Paul: 'That's what he got for using borrowed gear he hadn't even inspected before reaching the mountain.' On Jack: 'Of course, Jack had already proven he would do just about anything for food.' On mountain teamwork: 'You cannot act like Mother Teresa on the mountain and expect to live. The best thing mountaineers can do for others is to take care of themselves.' The best thing about the book is that it _is_ a wakeup call to anybody who isn't taking the mountain seriously enough. They certainly had a hard trip.