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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Heidi Howkins, the first American woman to summit K2 -- the world's second tallest peak and one of the most challenging mountains -- recounts her accomplishments in the thrilling K2: One Woman's Quest for the Summit. K2 is framed around a long drive she has with Hiddle, a hitchhiker she picked up just south of the Canadian border, whom she tells about her journey to the summit. Howkins's mesmerizing story emerges as an important addition to the genre of mountaineering tales, providing a woman's perspective on the forbidding peak of K2, a mountain with steeper slopes and more treacherous weather than Mount Everest.
While Howkins is powered by an intense drive to succeed on the mountain -- and to return home safely to her young daughter -- she repeatedly states that "fear is the tool that keeps climbers alive." Fear does play a large role in Howkins's life; she writes about the hallucinations climbers have as a result of oxygen deprivation, the number of colleagues who have lost their lives in pursuit of their dreams, and the dangers that come from climbing in frigid temperatures. Her striking accounts of these extreme situations and the unpredictable challenges that pop up while climbing are jaw-dropping throughout.
Howkins also enraptures readers in what may seem like mundane details to other climbers. She answers some of the obscure questions about how she goes to the bathroom (in a little bottle), gets water (she melts it down), and what she eats (one meal was horse fat and mustard).
An inspiring story of an exceptional woman, K2 leaves readers in awe of all of Howkins accomplishments, both on K2 and on the other peaks she has climbed. (Soozan Baxter)