4.28.2008

Book Review: Dark Summit

Dark Summit by Nick Heil

I seem to be developing a thing for stories from Mount Everest: first I read Into Thin Air by Krakauer, then I read Bear Grylls' story from Everest, and I just put "Everest" into my Netflix queue, the miniseries that Discovery aired this year.

Little did I know when I added it that that mini-series is an account of the same disastrous year on Everest that this nonfiction work covers. Though Heil was not a part of the ascent teams in 2006, he has done a great job of weaving together the stories of several teams who took to Everest in 2006 in hopes of reaching the summit - only to have the second highest fatality rate of any climbing year but 1996 (the year Krakauer climbed Everest).

This climbing year was like no other, mostly for the controversy that surrounded it: David Sharp, a lone climber with no team, little oxygen and no support, died on the mountain after more than 40 climbers passed him by, either unwilling or unable to help him. Though Heil details Sharp's story, he also talks of the death of German Thomas Weber, and other fatalities from the climb, as well as profiling many of the climbers involved in Everest in 2006.

Heil had to composite a lot of opinions and differing points of view for this story, and has done a good job of assimilating them into a cohesive tale. In addition, he spends a lot of his pages detailing the history of the mountain and her climbers, as well as some of the technicalities of climbing. Pictures from the 2006 season also round out this biography of a year on Everest. While not as "it's like you're right there!" as Krakauer's story, this is still a great read about a harrowing season on Everest - at turns grim and triumphant.

If you enjoyed Into Thin Air or are a fan of extreme adventure, check this one out!

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