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No Way Down: Life and Death on K2 Hardcover – June 29, 2010

130 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Bowley relies on a copious study of the events and interviews with survivors and families to artfully and assiduously piece together an account of a fractious day in brutal real time. Fatality by fatality.” (Holly Morris, New York Times Book Review)

“Unputdownable.... A portrait of extreme courage, folly and loss, leavened by a small dose of survival, as complete a version of the calamitous story as will probably ever emerge. . . . [A] step-by-faltering-step recreation of the thin-air fight to survive, bristling with cinematic immediacy.” (Justin Marozzi, Financial Times)

“Harrowing.” (Jan Gardner, Boston Globe)

“An astonishingly dramatic and sad tale of disaster on K2. Bowley expertly puts together the complex story of what happened as eleven people died high on the summit slopes of K2 in August 2008.” (Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void)

“Brisk and engrossing. . . . Mr. Bowley reveals a deep sympathy for his characters and their quest. . . . Entertaining.” (Michael J. Ybarra, Wall Street Journal)

“[A] fascinating tour de force…. Bowley wove his tale together after hundreds of interviews with dozens of people, and the result is a triumph of storytelling.” (Malcolm Ritter, Associated Press)

“A compelling narrative from interviews with most of the survivors. . . . The most complete report of the tragedy to date.” (Grayson Schaffer, Outside magazine)

“Harrowing. . . . Bowley is an intrepid journalist and gifted storyteller. . . . Thrilling and wrenching. (Kirkus Reviews)

“Bowley takes readers right onto the mountain…. As avalanches shear away ropes, darkness falls and rescue attempts succeed and fail, the book becomes impossible to put down….. The vivid story will captivate readers. No Way Down doesn’t just tell a harrowing adventure story-it will also make you think.” (BookPage)

“Both a gripping read and a clear-eyed investigation, No Way Down provides a compelling education in the game of climbing on the world’s highest mountains to readers who have never tied into a rope, and is an essential addition to any mountaineer’s bookshelf.” (Michael Kodas, author of High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed)

“A page-turning, utterly fresh take on the mountaineering experience, an Into Thin Air for a new century.” (Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers)

“The most comprehensive account of the mystifying chain of events leading to the catastrophe that we shall ever have. It’s a gripping story, full of hope and heartbreak, folly and heroism.” (David Roberts, co-author with Ed Viesturs of K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain)

“Graham Bowley’s No Way Down does a great job of putting you on the mountain. It is a refreshingly unadorned account of the true brutality of climbing K2, where heroes emerge and egos are stripped down, and the only thing achieving immortality is the cold ruthless mountain.” (Norman Ollestad, author of Crazy for the Storm)

“A fascinating account that does justice to the history, allure and heartache of K2.” (Kurt Diemberger, author of The Endless Knot)

“Riveting and powerful; an extraordinary story of an extraordinary tragedy. Reading No Way Down is the closest you can come to being on the summit of K2 on that fateful day.” (Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Explorer and Author)

“Through dogged reporting and vivid storytelling, Graham Bowley reconstructs K2’s 2008 climbing season, one of the most disastrous in history. I read this book in a single, sweaty-palmed sitting, and not because I intended to. I simply couldn’t put it down.” (Nick Heil, author of Dark Summit)

From the Back Cover

On August 1, 2008, no fewer than eight international teams of mountain climbers—some experienced, others less prepared—ascended K2, the world's second-highest mountain, with the last group reaching the summit at 8 p.m. Then disaster struck. A huge ice chunk came loose above a deadly three-hundred-foot avalanche-prone gully, destroying the fixed guide ropes. More than a dozen climbers—many without oxygen and some with no headlamps—faced the nearly impossible task of descending in the blackness with no guideline and no protection. Over the course of the chaotic night, some would miraculously make it back. Others would not.

In this riveting work of narrative nonfiction, journalist Graham Bowley re-creates one of the most dramatic tales of death and survival in mountaineering history.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (June 29, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061834785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061834783
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #801,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Steve Harrison VINE VOICE on July 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is about the events of August 1-4, 2008 on K2. The author interviewed most or all of the other people on the mountain and produced this narrative by assembling and reconciling their accounts.

The story is told almost entirely through their eyes. The result is a interesting and absorbing book but not one that draws conclusions. For example, no one actually saw the icefall that caused the tragedy and so it is never really described; the reader is allowed to piece together what happened based on some basic information about ice formations and on what the witnesses did see or hear. And no blame is cast but those of us whose climbing experience consists of reading books about it are left to spot what seem to be common problems -- delays going up, weak individual climbers, questionably-set ropes.

The epilogue reveals that the author did ask his interviewees about blame, so perhaps they did not adequately agree or perhaps an editorial decision was made that that information did not fit this sort of point-of-view storytelling. The epilogue also frankly acknowledges that others have put the evidence together differently; their versions put some individuals in a better light but do not basically change what happened.

The book's scope is limited to what happened to certain people at a particular time near the top of the mountain. It is not for those more interested in a comprehensive review of what went before, or of what went wrong, or of K2 mountaineering in general.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Paul M. Provencher VINE VOICE on July 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have always been fascinated by stories of mountain climbing. And I have always been afraid of falling from great heights. So for me a life that included technical climbing was never in the cards.

Notwithstanding, I enjoy a connection with the outdoors and love all seasons. I love the stark beauty of extreme weather and high places. This story teaches us a little about those people who are willing to chance their life to reach the worlds most extreme environments and extreme elevations. For me it is one of the only ways I will ever experience places like K2.

The story takes us through the final stages of ascent to the summit and return trip down. A number of individuals are described and their individual personalities are revealed, though at times it's a little difficult to keep them all straight.

But the account of the final climb to the summit was so compelling to me that I found it hard to put this book down. The author managed to make me feel cold, feel the fear of falling off the mountain. I could imagine the desolation, desperation and dispair that the people must have felt, and even the elation of achieving the goal of reaching the summit.

One thing this story made clear for me was that reaching the summit of a peak like K2 really is just one part of the whole picture. Getting back down in one piece is quite another. In this story we are taken into the expedition and learn in detail the many ways the return trip can go wrong in the blink of an eye.

As a result of reading this story I will never again see my own outdoor exploits as anything even remotely approaching the "extreme". An assault on K2 ranks right up there with trying to reach the moon.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Just lookin' on June 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have read just about every book in the "mountain disaster" genre.

Here are my problems with this book:

* The quality of the writing is poor.

* The author launches right in to the climb itself with almost no preliminaries about the personalities involved in the tragedy, their character strengths, weaknesses, quirks, motivations, histories, ties, rivalries. So, I did not feel invested in the characters, or "pulled in" the way I have been by other books.

* The author admits he had no prior interest in mountaineering, and it really shows. His lack of *expertise* does not bother me so much as his almost total nonchalance! He writes as if he wanted to just dive into this story and get it overwith and off his back as soon as possible.

I bumped this book from one stars up to two, based on the fact that the reporting seems to be unbiased. Good journalistic integrity.

But don't spend your money on this one, when there are so many fantastic alternatives for your reading pleasure! Here are just a few of the best:

Savage Summit (also about k2)
Touching the Void
Eiger Dreams
Annapurna - A Woman's Place
No Shortcuts to the Top
The Climb
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Gerald R. Adams on August 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Everyone who found "No Way Down" interesting should also read "One Mountain Thousand Summits " by Freddie Wilkinson for further insight into the events at K2 in August 2008 . While Graham Bowley's "No Way Down" contains a very helpful chronology and is an admirable attempt at presenting a balanced view of the participants ,his obvious ignorance of climbing simply hampered his ability to tell the whole story . Freddie Wilkinson is an experienced climber and because of that is much more able to understand and communicate the signifcance of the events and how Himalayan climbing has evolved to the point that a disaster like K2 in August 2008 could happen in the first place . That is why Jon Krakauer in "Into Thin Air" was able to interest the non-climbing public in a way non-climbing authors couldn't . I'm glad I read Mr. Bowley's book first but found that it left too many unanswered questions about too many things .
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