From Publishers Weekly
Co-director, with her husband, Doug Fesler, of the Alaska Mountain Safety Center, the author is an expert on both the beauty and dangers of snowy mountain ranges. Combining the expressive reverence for nature evident in an earlier work, Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along the Arctic's Edge
, with her own experiences, Fredston sounds a wake-up call to those who ski, hike or drive snow machines through snow-packed peaks and passes. Avalanches, she says, are not completely unpredictable, and can be avoided by reading the snow scrupulously and picking routes carefully. Drawing also on her husband's research on the history of avalanches in Alaska, Fredston describes how she and Fesler teach those who enjoy the mountains the best ways to minimize their risk. She presents harrowing accounts of rescue efforts the two have led, highlighting fatal accidents that might have been avoided. Fredston details, for example, the death of her friend Todd, an experienced skier, whose joy in the sport overcame caution when he and his comrades embarked on a last run that sparked a deadly avalanche. Fredston conveys the emotional toll too many mountain deaths have taken on the couple as well as their sense of mission to prevent future tragedies.
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This seems to be the era of a genre perhaps best called nature-adventure-disaster. Fredston, who lives with her husband in the mountains above Anchorage, Alaska, has spent the years tracking avalanches in an effort to prevent disasters. Fredston has rescued many skiers trapped by avalanches--one was so deeply entombed that he could only move one finger. She says that avalanches most often kill by suffocation, although broken necks and other forms of fatal trauma have become increasingly common as people jump into ever more ruthless terrain. "Poisoned by their own carbon dioxide emissions, most victims begin to lose consciousness within four minutes, which is a good thing, as they will use air at a slower rate," she writes. "Brain damage may set in after eight minutes." Fredston writes that avalanches are like fish; they tend to run in schools, and when one has occurred, more are likely. With black-and-white photography throughout,
this book is an electrifying account of the dangers of avalanches, their causes, their victims, and--thanks to Fredston--sometimes their victims' rescue. George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved