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Extended Audio Sample K2: Life and Death on the Worlds Most Dangerous Mountain Audiobook, 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: October 2009 ISBN: 9780739384718
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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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tony | 1/4/2014

    " A sort of K2's Greatest Hits, Viesturs does a good job putting the difficulty of this mountain into perspective. He uses his own (and others') experience on K2, Everest, and other 8000-meter climbs as a sort of gauge of how hard and dangerous K2 really can be. One thing I could have done without : the editorializing. Viesturs seems to be trying hard to keep himself from saying, "What I would have done is...." Yet, he still says it on several occasions. On one hand, you respect the opinion of a veteran climber (who has lived to tell about it). On the other hand, it sounds a little pompous after a while. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christina Dudley | 12/28/2013

    " Loved this one. An exciting history of K2 and its climbers. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janelle | 12/27/2013

    " I'm always fascinated by these stories; this book is no exception. The reader is good, although this particular piece is hampered by an audio presentation, as there are too many names (most of them foreign) to keep straight from story to story and expedition to expedition. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kirsten | 11/25/2013

    " Ever since Into Thin Air, I've been a sucker for mountaineering books (even though I have no interest in climbing high peaks). This one doesn't disappoint - I like the historical survey aspect of it, as Ed V. covers 5 expeditions to K2 spanning the 20th century. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom Torkelson | 11/16/2013

    " A good general history of K2 climbing. The author sums up the major expeditions, continually comparing and contrasting against his own climb and the recent 2008 tragedy. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Heidi Lind | 11/15/2013

    " I could not finish it. It was very poorly written, and the author kept bragging about his own achievements. It annoyed me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hans | 8/25/2013

    " Good read. I love hearing about all the attempts on K2 there is something that makes the stories of K2 different from Everest. My favorite mountain climbing story is about Fritz Wisner and the 1939 attempt and how close they came to summiting. Fritz is truly legendary. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judd | 4/14/2013

    " Very similar to "No Shortcuts to the Top", but with a great history of climbing on K2. Great book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 J. | 3/25/2013

    " self aggrandizing "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick | 1/26/2012

    " Ed does a fantastic job of reviewing the major expeditions to K2 in the last century. I thoroughly his commentary and additional insights into his successful climb in '92 of this incredible mountain. This is a fantastic read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristina | 6/30/2011

    " Riveting. I'm going to read everything he's written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michele | 6/12/2011

    " Very interesting but poorly written. Still gives a good background on the various espeditions on K2 since the beginning of big mountain climbing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrea | 5/20/2011

    " For anyone who loved Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, this is another can't-put-it-down look at mountain climbing. Read it in a weekend in Jackson Hole - couldn't have asked for a more perfect setting! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kirsten | 4/26/2011

    " Ever since Into Thin Air, I've been a sucker for mountaineering books (even though I have no interest in climbing high peaks). This one doesn't disappoint - I like the historical survey aspect of it, as Ed V. covers 5 expeditions to K2 spanning the 20th century. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff | 4/16/2011

    " I always knew K2 was deadly but until I read through the various major expeditions, I didn't realize just how deadly it was. Basically, for every 4 climbers that reach the summit, 1 dies. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lee | 3/27/2011

    " Some good stories although the repetition got a little old. And while I'm sure Ed is a fantastic climber, his second guessing of others became a little tedious. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emily | 2/27/2011

    " I started this book on 5/8/11. I am into Mt. Everest so I will see what this book is like. So far it is very good. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amy | 1/24/2011

    " 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jamie | 1/24/2011

    " Informative and interesting. Epilogue was very long winded and did little but re-iterate opinions already stated in the body. In all a good adventure story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Chance | 1/10/2011

    " Not a very good book. Ed's writing style is uninteresting. Feels like it meanders a lot into the meaningless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hardeep | 1/4/2011

    " Viesturs is a great author. This book gave me a peek into the world of high altitude cimbing, esp K2- the holy grail of mountaineering.... "

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About the Author
Author Ed ViestursIn May 2005 ED VIESTURS became the first American to ascend all fourteen of the world's 8,000-meter peaks. He lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington, with his wife and three children.
About the Narrator

Fred Sanders, winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award, has received critics’ praise for his audio narrations that range from nonfiction and memoir to fiction and mystery and suspense.