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Extended Audio Sample K2: Life and Death on the Worlds Most Dangerous Mountain, by Ed Viesturs Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,173 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ed Viesturs, David Roberts Narrator: Fred Sanders Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A thrilling chronicle of the tragedy-ridden history of climbing K2, the world's most difficult and unpredictable mountain, by the bestselling authors of No Shortcuts to the TopAt 28,251 feet, the world's second-tallest mountain, K2 thrusts skyward out of the Karakoram Range of northern Pakistan. Climbers regard it as the ultimate achievement in mountaineering, with good reason. Four times as deadly as Everest, K2 has claimed the lives of seventy-seven climbers since 1954. In August 2008 eleven climbers died in a single thirty-six-hour period on K2–the worst single-event tragedy in the mountain's history and the second-worst in the long chronicle of mountaineering in the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges. Yet summiting K2 remains a cherished goal for climbers from all over the globe. Before he faced the challenge of K2 himself, Ed Viesturs, one of the world's premier high-altitude mountaineers, thought of it as "the holy grail of mountaineering."

In K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain, Viesturs explores the remarkable history of the mountain and of those who have attempted to conquer it. At the same time he probes K2's most memorable sagas in an attempt to illustrate the lessons learned by confronting the fundamental questions raised by mountaineering–questions of risk, ambition, loyalty to one's teammates, self-sacrifice, and the price of glory. Viesturs knows the mountain firsthand. He and renowned alpinist Scott Fischer climbed it in 1992 and were nearly killed in an avalanche that sent them sliding to almost certain death. Fortunately, Ed managed to get into a self-arrest position with his ice ax and stop both his fall and Scott' s.

Focusing on seven of the mountain's most dramatic campaigns, from his own troubled ascent to the 2008 tragedy, Viesturs and Roberts crafts an edge-of-your-seat narrative that climbers and armchair travelers alike will find unforgettably compelling. With photographs from Viesturs's personal collection and from historical sources, this is the definitive account of the world's ultimate mountain, and of the lessons that can be gleaned from struggling toward its elusive summit.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Gripping...reveals a good deal about the rarefied noble-gonzo world of high-altitude mountaineering. New York Times
  • “Viesturs illuminates K2's challanges, triumphs, tragedies, and follies...Riveting. The Daily Beast
  • Viesturs's you-are-there narration communicates effortlessly the enormous effort, and high adventure, of scaling K2. Publishers Weekly

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Chris Ross | 2/20/2014

    " This book is essentially a recount of all of the tragic K2 expeditions that resulted in death. Viesturs starts out by saying that he tries not to be critical of other climbers or second guess other climbers then goes right on and contradicts himself and is critical of other climbers and points out all that they did wrong in his opinion and why most are now dead from the K2 expeditions he reviewed. I am not a climber and would never pay to be guided up Everest or K2 even if I had the money. Viesturs comes across as a self-righteous hypocrite in my opinion. This book does shed some light on why there are not many climbers that live beyond the age of 50 and the hazards of being a mountain climber. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Amy Mcghee | 2/10/2014

    " I love the mountains, so I love to read about mountaineering. However, this tail was disjointed and too insider-ish. I stopped around 50 pages in. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Zachary | 2/6/2014

    " A solid book, very entertaining, and an education on climbing a 8000er. It really taught me, a non-climber, about the dangers of climbing the big peaks and the factors that contribute to making such climbs. Viesturs does a fairly good job of summarizing the complex history and divergent accounts surrounding the assents of K2 since the late 1800s, though his opinion is heavily involved in the narrative. In some ways his opinion is a strong plus, while at others it isn't. I found it positive overall, and very informative. For climbers it provides a lot of common sense and logistical discussions that would help a climber with their own assent of a 8000er or smaller. Whether one agrees with Viesturs about all aspects in the book or not, its still a great book with a praiseworthy narrative that required a lot of research and background knowledge. Either way, this is a great read for climbers or non-climbers alike. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Esteban | 2/3/2014

    " I've been a Ed Viesturs fan since reading "No shortcuts to the Top". He is arguably one of the best climbers having climbed all 14 peaks of 8,000 meters and one of the few that can objectively lay judgment on the successes and failures of past K2 expeditions which is what he does in this book. K2 has always fascinated me and Ed does an excellent job feeding my interest by carefully narrating the many flawed expeditions of the past with detail and perspective that only one that has climbed the mountain can. Nice job. "

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