Everest: Alone at the Summitby Stephen Venables
Every day, the path up the South Col route to the summit of Everest becomes a little more worn by the tread of dozens of package-tour climbers, but few dare to try the East, or Kangshung, Face, a sheer, avalanche-swept wall of snow and ice only first conquered in 1983. Five years later, Stephen Venables intensified the challenge by leading three unknown American
Every day, the path up the South Col route to the summit of Everest becomes a little more worn by the tread of dozens of package-tour climbers, but few dare to try the East, or Kangshung, Face, a sheer, avalanche-swept wall of snow and ice only first conquered in 1983. Five years later, Stephen Venables intensified the challenge by leading three unknown American climbers up the East Face - this time without oxygen. The question to most climbing experts wasn't whether they would summit, but whether they would live. They nearly didn't Everest: Alone at the Summit is Venables' rousing account of one of the greatest feats of twentieth century mountaineering, a triumph over doubt, the elements and the limits of human endurance that has never been repeated. "Climbers or not, all will be interested in this mountaineering thriller of a tiny band pulling off an incredible victory-an account so stirring it will be put down only to obtain a moment's breather." -- American Alpine Journal
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In this book, Stephen Venables recounts his amazing foray into the world of Himalayan Climbing. Their tiny four man team attempts a brand new rout up the most difficult part of Mt. Everest: The Kangshung Face. For months they slave to establish a route up to the top, battling both the altitude and weather. It must feel strange to be on uncharted territory on one of the most commercialized mountains in the world. They establish numerous camps, facing many unexpected obstacles along the way. They encounter huge crevasses, forcing them to create a Tyrolean Traverse, all the while skirting the avalanche prone regions of Lhotse and the Big Al gully. As they are a small team with no Sherpas to carry up bottled oxygen, they must rely on their lungs to extract oxygen gas from the thin air. After weeks they finally reach the previously visited South Col. They are exhausted and spend a day resting before their final summit push. The trip to the top is grueling mentally and physically, as the lack of oxygen causes irrational decisions and mistakes. Venables even stop to take a nap on the summit attempt. He finds himself alone at the top (hence the title) at a remarkably late time of day. He struggles to descend, alone, with no bivouac supplies. The irony is that after the completion of seemingly most difficult part of the climb (the ascent), his greatest challenge lies ahead, with survival itself uncertain. I would highly recommend this book it is both gripping and well written. Venables displays a remarkable aptitude at accurately recounting the harrowing tale, inserting actual diary entries from the climb.
This is a story of an unprecedented climb on the grandest stage in mountaineering. The determination of the four climbers is an inspiration for anyone who has ever dreamed to do something different. Not only did they attempt to climb the world's highest mountain without oxygen, they did it on a brand new route which they themselves had to pioneer. A must read for anyone interested in mountaineering and especially in Mt Everest.