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The Other Side of Everest: Climbing the North Face Through the Killer Storm Hardcover – April 20, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

On May 10, 1996, a paralyzing storm killed 12 climbers on Mt. Everest, disfigured many others, and put the peak back on its lofty throne. While the disaster on the South Face has received nearly all of the publicity, most notably in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Anatoli Boukreev's The Climb, The Other Side of Everest details a novice's remarkable ascent through that same storm on the colder and more difficult North Face. With alarming details, author and cameraman Matt Dickinson describes the horror of the extreme altitude and crippling storm: the hunger, pain, fear, and exhaustion. At one point, the party comes face to face with failure: "As we stepped over the legs of the corpse to continue along the Ridge, we crossed an invisible line in the snow--and an invisible line of commitment in our own minds." For most of the journey, it must be said, Dickinson is uncomfortable with himself and his surroundings. But his honesty is refreshing. Through his travails, he develops a reverence for a mountain that demands respect, and as a result, the occasional moments of epiphany so central to the genre still retain a ring of truthfulness. Adventure buffs will welcome this addition to the Everest library. --Ben Tiffany

From School Library Journal

YA-Dickinson, who was hired by a high-adventure company to produce a movie about an ascent of Everest by a major British film star, is not a professional high-altitude climber. However, he is a fine writer with a style somewhere between the tight and intense passages of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air (Villard) and the ponderous, technical treatment in Anatoli Boukreev's much longer The Climb (St. Martin's, both 1997). He writes of actually making it to the summit up the North Face with a simplicity and wonder lacking in Everest accounts written by those who spend their lives climbing the world's highest peaks. As a filmmaker, he gives the book visual power. This title will hold readers in its icy grip from beginning to end.
Cynthia J. Rieben, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (April 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812931599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812931594
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #803,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book is well worth reading for all lovers of adventure and climbing.
Co-editors Nancy Gray and Dennis Field
The Other Side of Everest offers a different perspective of the 1996 tragedies, but it's well told - *and* the book offers a great deal more.
Well written and at time funny , this book is an interesting story in itself.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Ivy on April 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was a bit hesitant to read The Other Side of Everest; it was beginning to seem to me that there wasn't a person anywhere near the mountain during 1996 that *hadn't* written a book. I figured this one would be a rehashing of the story we all know so well, from Into Thin Air and other books. How wrong I was. The Other Side of Everest offers a different perspective of the 1996 tragedies, but it's well told - *and* the book offers a great deal more.
Dickinson, in my opinion, did a better job than Krakauer at writing for the non-climbing audience, perhaps because he isn't really a climber at all. He doesn't use much jargon, and when he does - "the Death Zone," for example, which was the UK title of this book - he defines his terms. He also answers a lot of the questions non-mountaineers and armchair adventurers have about climbing; for once and for all, he explains why climbers dread calls of nature above 8,000 meters, as just one example.
Dickinson writes very differently than most climbers, especially the ones who have written about Everest 1996. His narrative retains the tension and, in some places, tragedy that are common to the best expedition accounts, but he also uses humor in places where it's appropriate. I found myself laughing out loud in several places. The Other Side of Everest is also different in that it doesn't have the haunted, agonizing tone that Into Thin Air did, perhaps because Dickinson was farther from the tragedies, relatively speaking, or perhaps just because he waited longer than Krakauer did to write about it. Also, The Other Side is an account of a successful, "easy" Everest climb, not a disaster, which changes the perspective and the tone a lot from the other books about the 1996 season.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Simon Jackson on July 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Much has been written about Mount Everest 1996 and indeed the debate that was initiated not just by the events on the mountain but by the accounts of it primarily in Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Boukreev's The Climb continues. The Other Side of Everest (The Death Zone in England and Australia - don't but the same book twice!) adds to our knowledge of May '96 while at the same time does not attempt to mimic other accounts or indeed to enter the understandably emotive arena of claim and counter claim that personifies the 1996 Everest season.
Matt Dickinson, a film maker, writer and novice climber attempted Everest by its North Face. Essentially a cameraman there to film the English actor Brian Blessed's third attempt on the mountain, Dickinson writes with a refreshing honesty regarding his motivations, his fears and his almost lack of climbing skill. The result is an excellent account of the climb that enables the reader - particularly those of us whose highest peak is a flight of stairs - to get an understanding of the reality not just of climbing in general but of climbing Everest in May of 1996.
Most people will read this book after Boukreev and Krakauer have stimulated their interest in Everest. If this is the case you might also want to take a look at Everest: Mountain Without Mercy, a stunning IMAX pictorial account of the '96 climb. Furthermore, if like me you're now hooked on the whole subject of mountaineering then do a search for the books of Joe Simpson and Andrew Greig, you won't be disappointed.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Cat on August 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Like many who started with Krakauer's Into Thin Air, I've now read a number of Everest stories, including more than one eye-witness account of the 1996 storm. Dickinson's story includes another description of the 1996 storm, but from the North rather than the South side of the mountain. Because of the different approach, Dickinson is not able to add detail or first-hand opinions on the disaster that played out on the South Col. However, Dickinson's account is well worth adding to the library for several reasons: it is well-written and humorous, it provides interesting information on the North route (the one attempted by Mallory and Irvine), and, more than any of the other Everest books I have read, it describes the conditions on Everest in such a way that a non-climber, like me, can almost imagine what it must be like to be so high, with so little air, in such cold. As he is quick to admit, Dickinson is not a high-altitude climber. He came to Everest to direct a documentary film about climbing the mountain, but initially did not intend to attempt the summit himself. Because he was a novice at high-altitude, Dickinson is able to describe the surprising sensations of oxygenless and extreme cold more convincingly than others, such as Boukreev, who almost assumes familiarity with such matters. At least for this armchair climber, these details are at least as fascinating and exciting as the dramatic story playing out on the South Col. And of course, because Dickinson did summit Everest and did return to tell the story, there is plenty of human drama and climbing excitement. I highly recommend this account.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on October 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm starting to feel like an Everest junkie after reading Into Thin Air and watching the IMAX account of that climb. I was skeptical that this book would add anything, so I guess it pleasantly surprised me. Because Dickinsin is not an "expert" climber, I enjoyed his open and honest perspective into climbing. As the scrappy guy, he surprises everyone by actually gaining strength and being able to attain the summit.
This book has even more blow by blow detail than Into Thin Air. If you are interested in just how hard it is to make every step towards the top, this book will take you there. It's the closest many of us will get to any task of this magnitude. Plus, this book offers a new and interesting perspective: the NORTH face of the mountain, a tougher climb in many respects. As such, it serves as an excellent companion to Into Thin Air for its complimentary perspective. I enjoyed the vivid details of this book from the extraordinary sherpas to the feisty yak herders to the accounts of bowel evacuation on a high mountain. There are also some interesting personal insights. In short, an excellent read, well written and very detailed. I feel out of oxygen from the last 40 pages.
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