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Minus 148 Degrees: The First Winter Ascent of Mount McKinley Paperback – July, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Mountaineers Books; 3rd edition (July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898866871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898866872
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This finely crafted adventure tale runs on adrenaline but also something else: brutal honesty." -- -- Wall Street Journal

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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4 star
21%
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See all 47 customer reviews
A good read that was tough to put down.
Wayne A. Smith
If you enjoy books about Alaska and not just mountaineering this is a must read.
Paul Shannon
This is the best kind of book - a true story told well.
Bruce Lawrence

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 29, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is clear from the beginning of this book that trouble was looming on the horizon for these intrepid, but somewhat reckless, climbers. The loss early on of one of their comrades to a fall into a crevasse was predictable. How they could think of walking unroped, on a glacier that they knew was ridden with crevasses, is almost unbelievable. This was due, no doubt, to youthful inexperience and a lack of leadership necessary to set the parameters of what would be acceptable in terms of safety. These factors combined were to cost them dearly. It was not until near the end of their forty two day stay on the mountain, that they coalesced into a team.

Notwithstanding the sheer recklessness of their initial, bumbling efforts at a winter ascent of Mt. McKinley, the fact remains that they did achieve the first such summit, no mean feat any time of year, but almost inconceivable in the dead of winter. Coming off the summit, their thermometer recorded the temperature at a quite bone chilling minus fifty eight degrees.

Caught in a whiteout on their descent, however, the three summiteers were forced to dig a snow cave, where they were to spend endless days, in weather which saw temperatures plummet to an almost mind boggling minus one hundred and forty eight degrees with the wind chill factor, hence the name of the book. That they could survive this, is a testament to their fortitude.

In their snow cave, it was a relatively toasty minus thirty five below. That snow cave was the only thing that stood between them and certain death. With virtually no food, frost bitten, and suffering from disorientation due to the altitude, they waited out the storm and lived to tell the tale.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 25, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I wanted to get a feel for high altitude climbing though I have no interest in climbing for myself. Geez! I got the picture. I'm still blown away by the story of what happened on the mountain. But, thankfully, blown away, only in a metaphorical sense...
I had a friend who was a high altitude climber who told me about a friend climbing in the Himalayas. The guy went out during a blizzard at high altitude to relieve himself and was never seen again. My friend said,"He was blown into the stratosphere". I never understood that kind of language until I read this book.
It's an incredible story of survival right up there with the story of the voyage of the crew of the Endurance.
The writing is awfully good for a mountain climber!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Paul Shannon on March 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in 1972 while in high school. Could not read it fast enough but did not want it to end. Had all the adventure and suspense of a true Alaskan adventure. On my second trip to Alaska as a state park campground host in 1994 I worked in Denali state park. Not until later did I realize that the six foot five, red head ranger was none other than Dave Johnston. One of the first three men to reach the summit of Mount McKinley in the winter. To know that these men could survive such an ordeal and years later be so down to earth. If you enjoy books about Alaska and not just mountaineering this is a must read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Scott Guile on October 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am not going to rehash the plot here, I'm sure others have done so and you can get that in some capacity from many sources. The author was on the expedition which this book is about, and it was a bold one to say the least; the first winter ascent of Mt Mckinley. He does a great job inviting us onto Mt McKinley (it was not Denali in 1967, at least not in the public mind) and this is a quick and pleasing read. However he does not interweave as deftly the history and personal story lines that have taken the genre to new places in the past decade or so. Granted Art wrote this in 1969 at which time he'd sworn off expeditions -- largely as a result of holing up in snow cave in a hurricane at 18,000 plus feet for 8 days - so the books that I'm used to reading from adventure writers simply feel more modern. Regardless of this I would highly reccomend this read, and I would also pair it with Forever on the Mountain by James Tabor; about the Wilcox expedition on the same mountain a mere 3-4 months after the first winter ascent (which ended up changing the rules for how Mountains would be climbed in general - not from the mountaineering standpoint, but rather from the standpoint of how gov't officials approved and approached expeditions). For any armchair expeditioner -- such as myself -- the literature on McKinley is essential. This is a mountain that can be every bit as evil and unforgiving as the nastiest Himalayian peak, the weather and the relief are actully in most cases at least equal. Donavan's book is certainly a great read. I bought the paperback reprint, but if I had a do-over I'd look for an early edition as I suppose they must be out there.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
I found this book in a ranger station near Mt. McKinley (under the visitor center). The ranger was kind enough to invite us in from the pouring rain and we slept there, well they did, I opened this book after dinner and finished it in the wee hours. I could not put it down, and I'm not a mountain climber. The title refers to the coldest temperature on the climbers' wind charts, and it was colder than that. The temperature was off the scale and the wind was blowing so hard these guys were trapped for days and couldn't go up or down. I think a tent even blew away... but it was over 25 years ago that I read the book.. and it still haunts me. Now I've finally found it again and I'm going to order it. At least as good as "Into Thin Air." I'm going to pass it around to all my friends that read that one and "The Climb."
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