Olson, Tod

Into the Clouds: The Race to Climb the World's Most Dangerous Mountain

(2) YA "It's a savage mountain...It tries to kill you." The second-highest mountain in the world (after Mount Everest), K2 is certainly more dangerous. Climbers have frozen to death, been blown off the mountain by gale-force winds, been smothered in avalanches, and died from blood clots in their legs. "Nothing grows. And nothing survives for long." It is a "death zone." More than nine thousand climbers have scaled Everest, but fewer than four hundred have successfully summited K2, a 28,250-foot-high mountain "tucked away in the far northern reaches of the Himalaya." In relating the dramatic stories of three American expeditions to K2--in 1938, 1939, and 1953--Olson weaves reflections on the meaning of life into tales of death-defying and death-causing adventures. The book is divided into three parts--one for each expedition--plus an epilogue that gives voice to the climbers' own reflections about their experiences. Striking black-and-white photographs of the mountain, of the climbers, and even of frostbitten toes add to the drama and sense of immediacy. Readers will also find (in the back matter in a two-page section on "The Gear") a good amount of technical detail about how climbs are organized and carried out. In his author's note, Olson reflects on the mountain climber's "complicated relationship with death" from the vantage point of the "sea level–bound observer." Appended with a bibliography and source notes.


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