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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIGH ALTITUDE HEROICS...
A riveting read, this book chronicles the 1953 Third American Karakoram Expedition. The authors, members and integral part of that illustrious team of eight expeditioners, regale the reader with their account of the tragic circumstances with which they were faced while attempting to summit K2, a five mile high mountain, second only to Everest in height but infinitely more...
Published on August 27, 2000 by Lawyeraau

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Teamwork
Although I have nothing but the utmost respect for these reknowned climbers and their worthy attempt to summit K2, I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as some of the other climbing epics out there today.
It is interesting to see the difference in climbing narratives written back in the 50's as compared to those written in the last thirty years or so. It seems...
Published on November 21, 2002 by Book Junkie


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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIGH ALTITUDE HEROICS..., August 27, 2000
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A riveting read, this book chronicles the 1953 Third American Karakoram Expedition. The authors, members and integral part of that illustrious team of eight expeditioners, regale the reader with their account of the tragic circumstances with which they were faced while attempting to summit K2, a five mile high mountain, second only to Everest in height but infinitely more perilous to ascend.
The book recounts the myriad of detail which went into the formulation of that expedition, from the selection of its respective team members to the type and quantity of supplies necessary for such an ambitious endeavor. The book, in fact, includes a series of appendixes which lists in minute detail a day to day travel chronology of the expedition, a list of all equipment necessary, the breakdown of the various foods taken, the medical supplies needed for the venture, and a list of financial costs and transport requirements. In short, it provides everything one may have ever wanted to know about what goes into mounting an expedition. Nostalgia buffs, as well as climbing enthusiasts, will revel in the plethora of information!
The book also grounds the reader in the historical, as well as geographical, pedigree of K2 and the challenges which it has presented over time. It recounts the previous reconnaissances and expeditions which had traveled to the environs of K2. Interestingly enough, on this expedition, unlike prior ones, Hunza mountain porters from a small border state in northern Pakistan, rather than Sherpas, were employed, due to the prevailing political winds of the time.
The journey of the expedition over the remote and primitive reaches of the then infant country of Pakistan is a death defying venture in and of itself. Imagine the expedition with its hundred and twenty five native Balti porters, each carrying sixty pound loads, crossing raging rivers in ancient barges said to be similar to those used by Alexander the Great in leading his armies across the same river! At other times, they crossed turbulent river waters, using rafts made up of inflated animal bladders which were lashed together. They traversed across wide gorges over bridges made of woven willows and twigs. These so called bridges had an alarming tendency to turn upside down, promising to send the hapless traveler to a certain death below! Fortunately, the expedition was able to avert death at this stage of its journey.
Upon reaching Base Camp, an assault upon K2 was quickly launched. With the assistance of the Hunzas and a stretch of good weather, Camps I through III were established with a minimum of fuss. The Hunzas, however, did not progress beyond Camp III, as the expedition members felt it wiser to ascend without them, given the Hunzas' limited high altitude experience and equipment. From then on, the expeditioners, eager for a summit bid, did all the loading and carrying work up the mountain, ultimately establishing Camp VIII at an elevation of about 25,500 feet. It was there that the beginning of the end took place.
While at Camp VIII, all eight members of the expedition found themselves storm bound for seven days. Despite being buffeted by hurricane force winds, driven snow, lack of sufficient food, drink, and sleep, all while trapped in the death zone without supplementary oxygen, they still clung to their summit dream.
That dream ended abruptly when one of them became desperately ill with thrombophlebitis, and needed to be evacuated. Their nightmare had begun. Though it was seemingly impossible to lower the ill climber down the face of K2, this group of brave men would not abandon their fallen comrade. A break in the storm, a desperate plan to save their friend, and they started off with him in tow only to have their escape aborted by the potential for avalanche. They retreated back to Camp VIII and by the next day were ready to execute an alternate plan of evacuation.
Once again, they began the grim descent with their now catastrophically ill and courageous comrade in tow, this time during a storm with driven snow and gale force winds. Braced upon snow swept ridges, they began the arduous task of carefully lowering their friend down the relentlessly steep slope of K2. There, two of them survived a skirmish with an avalanche. Despite the peril, they continued down the mountain with great fortitude. Suddenly, one of them lost his footing, however, and five of them went tumbling down the mountain side, only to have their fall abruptly checked by an amazing belay executed by the youngest member of the expedition. Despite illness, injuries and frost bite, the eight man team was still intact.
Unfortunately, it was not to remain thus. Shortly after, a heartbreaking and tragic accident occurred, resulting in a death which will move the reader to tears. The book culminates in a remarkable and harrowing descent by the remaining survivors, many of whom were incapacitated by the injuries and frostbite incurred along the way. Their survival is a testament to the indomitable human spirit and its enormous will to live.
The story of the 1953 Third American Karakoram Expedition is one of the most amazing and spellbinding in the annals of mountaineering history. Gripping in its telling, it is a must read for all climbing enthusiasts and for all who simply love a great read.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroics on K2, June 13, 2000
Charles Houston and Robert Bates followed up their book Five Miles High (the story of the 1938 American expedition to K2) with this book, the firsthand story of the 1953 American expedition to K2. Once again the lenghthy trek just to reach the mountain is described along with the actual attempts to reach the summit. As was true with Five Miles High, various team members contributed chapters to the book. Several particularly gripping and memorable chapters describe the team's efforts to survive high on the mountain during a severe storm lasting for days as well as their unbelievable descent with a gravely injured team member. This book is well worth reading and will give you an excellent feel for the '53 attempt to climb the world's second highest peak.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a People Place, February 22, 2001
By 
sweetmolly (RICHMOND, VA USA) - See all my reviews
At 28,250 feet, K-2 is the world's second highest mountain, 800 feet less than Everest. Mentally add 6,000 feet to K-2 for sheer meanness. Everest is considered a "snow" mountain; K-2 has everything. Snow, ice, rock, constant avalanches, loose shale and a generally evil disposition.
In 1953, an eight-man American team attempted to summit K-2. The book tells us of their meticulous preparations, financing and outfitting. I was struck by the fact the cost estimate for the entire 8-man expedition was $25,000. I recently read the cost for one ~person~ to join an Everest expedition is $80,000!
The two authors come across as fine, honorable, decent men. The entire team's bravery in adversity is inspiring. After a spell of fine weather during the first part of their ascent, all their luck went against them. One team member became seriously ill and a bitter storm locked them in their "camp" for seven days. The camp was a mere outcropping on a rocky ledge. The wind almost blew them off their fragile platform. They were determined to carry out their dangerously ill member. The task was almost impossible to contemplate, let alone carry out. They were not successful only because the storm was so unrelenting.
I will not spoil the book for you by describing their descent. The authors will astound you with their story. Highly recommended
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Teamwork, November 21, 2002
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Book Junkie "clubhouse9" (Salt Lake City, UT United States) - See all my reviews
Although I have nothing but the utmost respect for these reknowned climbers and their worthy attempt to summit K2, I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as some of the other climbing epics out there today.
It is interesting to see the difference in climbing narratives written back in the 50's as compared to those written in the last thirty years or so. It seems like there was a different attitude toward climbing in the 50's and before, one that was more supportive of teamwork and cooperation, whereas many of today's narrations are more reflective of each person being responsible for taking care of him or herself only (such as the '96 Everest disaster). As in the case of Art Gilkey's emergency situation, the entire team without question (at least in this rendition of the story) made the effort to get him off of the mountain.
I was somewhat bored by this narrative though (except for storm and the famous Pete Schoening team-arrest) and it's one-dimensional portrayal of the team members. It made me wonder if Houston and Bates were telling it like it really was. They were always very complimentary toward everyone on the team. But in extreme, stressful conditions (both mentally and physically) like these, don't people sometimes become short-tempered, or even withdrawn? But perhaps the authors' objective was not to give insight into individual team members and how they interacted with one another, but rather to just tell of their adventure and how, through remarkable teamwork, they were able to survive K2 against the odds, and live to tell about it.
I also would have liked to see more detailed maps of their route throughout the book, so it would be easier to follow them on their ascent and descent.
I won't deny that this book deserves a place with the other classic mountaineering epics, due to the extraordinary events that this team lived through. However, I prefer narratives that really tell it like it is, "warts and all." I want to get a true sense of the struggles (to feel like I am really there in the bitter cold), and come to understand each person who makes up the entire team.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Of Us Are Weaker But Morale Is Very High, August 8, 2010
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This review is from: K2, The Savage Mountain: The Classic True Story Of Disaster And Survival On The World's Second-Highest Mountain (Paperback)
This radio transmission sums up the indomitable spirit of the Third American Karakoram Expedition, the story of which is told in K2 The Savage Mountain.

The entire team had been stormbound for almost a week at 25,500 feet. Unable to move, without supplementary oxygen, they clung to their tiny outcropping while the wind and snow raged around their tents. It was only a matter of time before disaster struck, and it did in the form of Art Gilkey's pulmonary embolism. It was clear that he would have to be carried down the face of the world's second largest and most dangerous mountain in a raging storm. And the others themselves were fighting to survive. And so the message was sent - "All of us are weaker, but morale is very high".

This is a classic story of great adventure, survival, heroism and honor. Told with humility and vintage understatement, it grips the reader, imparting a hopeful message of human possibilities.

You'll be hard pressed to put it down.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ideal companion volume to Five Miles High, June 27, 2000
By 
K. Freeman (Apple Valley, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Much like Five Miles High in general subject and tone, K2: The Savage Mountain is a somewhat more exciting book due to the climbers' desperate retreat with the stricken Art Gilkey and Schoening's famous belay. It's well told and provides an interesting look at the large mountaineering expeditions of the past.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't Miss a Beat, November 23, 2000
By 
Mony Flambe (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Houston, Bates and Bell's account of their "53 attempt to reach K2 is absolutely through in its coverage. If this wasn't enough, they manage to allow us to share this epic struggle not only through their clear descriptions of the events but also by giving us their honest emotions. It was truly a well-chosen team who deeply cared for each other. How noble of them to attempt to save their dying fellow climber Gilkey when most would have thought it folly and how miraculous the survival of their big fall. I have a feeling that a weaker team would not have gotten back off the mountain. Excellent book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic historical climb, January 6, 2002
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A 1953 climb still translates in 2002. This is a detailed account cowritten by two of the climbers and is very detailed including the long walk in. I was surprised how little mountain climbing had changed although it did appear distances traveled daily were less as they required 8 campsites to get to the peak. I find books on mountaineering expeditions very interesting although the climbs themselves contain long periods of boredom. This expedition is no different as a brutal storm stops the climbers just short of the summit. The book does a great job detailing how high altitude can effect a climber's body. One of the writers was a doctor.
Needless to say, the long, unforgiving storm takes it's toll on the men placing them in ultimate peril. Getting down from the high altitude, steep face carrying a wounded member led to the most incredible living disaster I have ever read. Well, living for most of the climbers
Read this book for adventure and historical climbing perspective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage and Character Of a Lost Era, July 26, 2009
I trekked to the base of K2 in 2007. You still have to walk about 150 miles in total over treacherous terrain to get to where you can even see K2. The bravery of these early adventurers is amazing!

Some where I have read a less detailed description of the fall and famous belay by Pete Schoening. This book is the best first had account of this most famous event in U.S. mountaineering.

This book is a must read for anyone interested in mountaineering or the big mountains of Asia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring story for people who like adventure, January 27, 2010
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This review is from: K2, The Savage Mountain: The Classic True Story Of Disaster And Survival On The World's Second-Highest Mountain (Paperback)
It is a great story about friendship and life. I was amazed about the skills and the logistics available in that time (1953). The story is great, and it's going both through spiritual part and technical part of the climb.
It is an inspiring book for those who like adventure.
My personal favourite quote from the book:

"When men climb on a great mountain together, the rope between them is more than a mere physical aid to the ascent; it is a symbol of the spirit of the enterprise. It is a symbol of men banded together in a common effort of will and strength - not against this or that imagined foeman of the instant, but against their only true enemies: inertia, cowardice, greed, ignorance, and all weaknesses of the spirit"
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