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Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey Hardcover – October 5, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery Books; 1st U.S. Ed edition (October 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156331830X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563318306
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #490,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Why just climb Everest when you can climb it without supplemental oxygen? Why just climb it without oxygen when you can climb it alone? And why fly to Nepal to climb Everest when you can bicycle all the way there? Apparently, questions such as these occurred to Göran Kropp, a Swede with a taste for adventure and a desire for the Ultimate High. In October 1995, Kropp set out from Sweden with a bicycle, a trailer, and over 200 pounds of equipment. Over the next four months, he cycled some 7,000 miles across Eastern Europe, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. By the time he arrived in Kathmandu, Kropp had been shot at, pelted with rocks, and offered the madam's daughter--free of charge--in a Hungarian brothel.

After carrying his own equipment up to Everest Base Camp, Kropp found himself surrounded by other climbers, all waiting for a break in the weather so they could attempt the summit. Many books have been written about that disastrous season on Everest, notably Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and Anatoli Boukreev's The Climb. Kroop adds little of substance to the story, engaging mainly in camp gossip about who was sleeping with whom and "outing" climbers who lied about reaching summits. Even Kropp's account of his own climb is somewhat suspenseless--though some readers will be relieved that he doesn't go into too much detail about his physical breakdown. More tiresome is Kropp's clear disdain for climbers who use supplemental oxygen. ("Mount Everest is not 29,028 feet tall if the mountain is scaled by a climber wearing an oxygen mask.") He also despises climbers who "see Everest and other high peaks reduced to trophies kept in a china cabinet"--though his "Ultimate Mountain List" (he's already climbed 16 of the 22) seems a bit like a trophy room itself.

After he finally reached the summit--on his third attempt in under a month--Kropp spent a few weeks recuperating in Kathmandu and then hopped on his bike for the long and rugged ride home. Not satisfied, Kropp is already planning and training for his next adventure, to take place in 2004: sailing from Sweden to Antarctica, skiing to the South Pole, and returning--all solo. That he is only just learning to sail doesn't dissuade him--"I like to jump headfirst into new projects." Ultimate High is proof that he's determined--and crazy--enough to complete them. --Sunny Delaney

From Publishers Weekly

On Mount Everest, May 1996 was the cruelest monthAthe month eight climbers died on the mountain, the month that has been recounted already in books by Jon Krakauer, David Breshears, Anatoli Boukreev, Matt Dickinson and others. Half a year earlier, in October 1995, Swedish climber KroppAthe second person in the world to reach the summit of K2 without the aid of oxygenAset out from Stockholm on an 8000-mile bicycle trip to Katmandu, with 250 pounds of gear and the intention of scaling Everest without oxygen. Kropp's account, written with journalist Lagercrantz, is straightforward, yet ultimately trifling. Too much space is wasted on self-absorbed anecdotes (e.g., Kropp, during what he calls his "wild period," mounting the stage at a rock concert and shouting "The government is imperialistic!"). The world according to Kropp is filled with too many silly exclamations ("This is totally awesome!") and too little insight. But when Kropp refrains from glib self-absorption, his story is as gripping as the adventures of Indiana Jones. Along the way, Kropp encounters ravenous wild dogs, numerous free lunches, blizzards, stone-throwing youngsters, a hilarious misadventure in a brothel in Hungary, weddings in Romania, gunfire in Turkey. It's an excellent adventure, but very mediocre adventure writing. Color inserts not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

It's a tell it like it is scenario.
Dennis Koenig (dkoenig@advanix.net)
Kropp adds interesting details to Jon Krakauer's classic account of the 1996 Everest tragedy, "Into Thin Air".
C. de Neergaard
It has been too long since I have read this book; time for a reread.
Z

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I reviewed this book for The Denver Post book section. Love him or leave him, Kropp is a brutally honest climber and storyteller who admits his flaws up front and then asks you to judge him by what he does, not by what he says. Some fans of the outdoors seem angry that Kropp has written forthrightly about climbing scams, political backbiting in camp, poor treatment of Sherpas and altitude's terrible toll on bodily functions. What these critics miss is that by telling the truth, Kropp does not diminish climbing but lifts it back into glory by showing exactly how hard it is to responsibly climb the world's highest peaks. The writing may be wooden at times, but Kropp's amazing story shines through the flaws.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Koenig (dkoenig@advanix.net) on October 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Goran Kropp's "Ultimate High" is one of the best Everest books to come along in quite some time. It's not all about mountains or just Everest, it's about people, places, hardships and humility. Kropps sets out on his bicycle from Sweden to the Himalayas to climb Everest unassisted and with without oxygen. Throughout this adventure Kropp fearlessly talks about the climbing elite and some of the "goings on" on Everest. He accomplishes this without being malicious. It's a tell it like it is scenario. This writer learned more about Everest in this short little book than from several others about the subject."Ultimate High" is the ultimate read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Paul D. Tinney on January 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
At 50 years old I rode my bicycle 3600 miles across the United States. Perhaps because of that experience I had great empathy with Goran. When I arrived home I was met by my entire town, two newspapers ran front page stories about my adventures, for months everyone I met congratulated me but deep down I felt unfulfilled. Goran Kropp rode his bicycle twice as far, across hostile countries, in bad weather, with much more weight. Then he climbed Mount Everest. I applaud his attempts to "do it all" with no supplemental oxygen or sherpa support and empathize with his mood swings.
Thank you Goran for letting me share your adventure. My only criticism is that it is too short. I would love to read what Mr. Lagercrantz left on the editing room floor. Two questions I would love to know the answers to: How did you overcome the language barrier? and, did you marry Renata?
A Must read for anyone who has ever answered a question with, "because it's there".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By C. de Neergaard on January 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
Goran Kropp's and David Lagercrantz's "Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey" is an excellent autobiography of a climber. Kropp wisely chose to tell his story with the help of a professional writer, Lagercrantz. Kropp's book is liberally peppered with fascinating stories that leave one astonished. As with any autobiography, it is only an enjoyable read if you like the author. I found his spirit delightful.
A bit more than half the book covers Kropp's own three attempts to summit Everest in the context of the much written about events of May 1996. Kropp adds interesting details to Jon Krakauer's classic account of the 1996 Everest tragedy, "Into Thin Air". Disturbingly, far too much of chapters ten and eleven of "Ultimate High" appear to be borrowed, in places with the almost same wording, from "Into Thin Air". Lagerkrantz acknowledged a debt to Krakauer at the back of the book. Perhaps this is customary in Sweden. Other than this problem of sometimes repeating or paraphrasing Krakauer, "Ultimate High" is a fun read.
It would be valuable, if a second edition of this book could be published that includes a biography of Kropp after Everest until the end of his far too short life in 2002.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eric Cohen on December 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
What an incredible addition to an incredible series of stories. Just when you thought that each installment of the 1996 tragedy would begin to sound the same, along comes another fantastic version. Being a cyclist and an avid hiker I can appreciate the drama of Goran's adventure. I can only dream of coming anywhere close to his accomplishment, that's why this story I will read over and over again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a mountaineer myself, what I appreciated most about this book was Kropp's honesty (often brutal) and his very real bond with mountains and their environment. Too many climbers (especially many of the amateurs/tourists on Everest) see mountains as somethinig to be conquered and ticked off, but Kropp shows some genuine understanding and love for the high places he frequents, as evidenced by a later clean-up operation amongst other things. Nevertheless, he is still a driven man, who wants to succeed, but for him, topping Everest is something to be done with the hill and not against it - you can stand on the summit, but you'll never have conquered it. I disagree strongly with other reviewers who claim that Kropp is arrogant and continually opines that all others who attempt Everest are cheats - it's clear at all times that Kropp chose what to do for personal reasons, though he does reserve some well-deserved contempt for the tourists on Everest who simply shouldn't be there. The dry humour that prevails many parts of the book is endearing as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Janomee2 on January 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I expected a much more exciting story given this remarkable adventure. There's a lot of rehash on the Everest tragedy which has already been much better covered by "Into Thin Air" and numerous other books. Goran surely has much more to tell about his owh adventure through Europe and Asia and then finally the Everest climb. There is also some spotty editing - maybe the whole book was hastily done.
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