Each group contained world class climbers and relative novices, some of whom had paid tens of thousands of pounds for the climb. As they neared the summit twenty-three men and women, including the expedition leaders, were caught in a ferocious blizzard. Disorientated, out of oxygen and depleted of supplied, the climbers struggled to find their way to safety. Experienced high-altitude guide Anatoli Boukreev led an exhausted and terrified group of climbers back to safety before going back out into the blizzard to help others stranded on the mountain. Rescuing a number of people from certain death, he emerged a hero.

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What unfolded over the course of two days became the single most devastating tragedy in mountaineering history. Eight climbers died after a blizzard above Camp 4 ravaged climbers above. For example, on page eight, he makes one of his first mentions of Scott Fischer. However, the note reads more like a post-mortem expertise resume than a note. Right from chapter one, the author is opening the scene for a play in which he alone is the star act, and his co-author, the cheering one-man audience, egging him on.

Effectively, you could say he was taking advantage of a newcomer to the mountain, who was desperately trying to make a dent in the industry and needed an expert climber. However, he neither acted like one nor did he even attempt to aide his clients in getting to the top. He climbed alone, without oxygen and descended alone, without clients. This would be fine by normal standards. Fischer eventually found himself exhausted to the point he could not withstand the summit and descent.

Boukreev makes a defense that he descended quickly because he was climbing without oxygen, and was not supposed to expose himself for long without it at such altitudes. Disaster Strikes His logic was not wrong. A climber without supplemental oxygen should not be at high altitudes for longer than necessary. And he would have been better equipped to help in the event of a disaster.

By the end of the night, he was needed. There is no eloquence here, there is no satisfaction of expectation. He saved lives. He went back out into a monster storm to bring back the barely living of his own group. Those authors who made the inner evaluation of whether or not they should write their accounts, and proceeded in the name of honesty and bearing their soul, did so in a way that can only classify the retelling as ART.


The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest

Denali, previously known as Mount McKinley, has challenges such as hidden crevasses and unpredictably cold weather due to its proximity to the Arctic Circle and the ocean. The expedition was a success and the team reached the summit and returned without incident. During the climb there had been somewhat of a language barrier and Boukreev felt the sting of needing to borrow equipment due to his economic circumstances. After the team had returned home, Boukreev decided to attempt a solo speed ascent of Denali before returning to the Soviet Union. K2 is referred to as the "Savage Mountain" — notable for its steep pyramidal relief, dropping quickly in almost all directions, and the inherent danger in climbing it.


Anatoli Boukreev




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