- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (October 12, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312269706
- ISBN-13: 978-0312269708
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 49 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Above the Clouds: The Diaries of a High-Altitude Mountaineer Hardcover – October 12, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
Born in Mayak, Russia, in 1958, Boukreev became one of the world's greatest mountain climbers. But while his accomplishments included 21 ascents of 11 of the world's 14 highest mountains, Boukreev became known to the general public only after his work as a guide on a disastrous Mt. Everest climb was described in less than glowing terms in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. Boukreev's coauthored bestselling account of the tragedy, The Climb, was an attempt to set the record straight. This new posthumous collection is a series of narratives Boukreev wrote between 1987 and his death climbing Annapurna in 1997; it stands as an excellent addition to The Climb and as one of the most revealing and tough-minded descriptions of the life of a mountain climber. Three themes dominate the essays: the spiritual beauty and power of the mountains, the increasing commercialization of mountain climbing and the necessity for rigorous training by people (pros and newcomers alike) who want to climb the big mountains. The accounts collected and edited by his companion Linda Wylie capture Boukreev's thoughts during an often troubled period: by 1989, at the height of his powers, Boukreev had received the highest sports honors in Soviet history, but when the Soviet Union collapsed, Boukreev was forced to move to America, where he made his living as a guide for wealthy patrons on private climbing adventures including the terrible Mt. Everest trip, which haunted him until he died. 32 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Nov. 16)Forecast: The bestselling status of Boukreev's first book as well as continuing interest in the 1996 attempt to climb Mt. Everest should promise sizable, serious readership.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Readers familiar with the 1996 Everest disaster will likely remember Boukreev as the Russian climber vilified by Jon Krakauer in Into Thin Air (LJ 4/1/97). Boukreev responded later that year with his version of the accident in his best-selling The Climb (LJ 11/1/97), coauthored by G. Weston DeWalt. Although somewhat hindered by his lack of English skills, Boukreev managed to create a large and dedicated circle of friends in the United States and elsewhere. In December 1997, he was killed in an avalanche while attempting a winter ascent of Annapurna. These narratives, originally written in Russian and collected and edited by his partner Linda Wylie, offer a look into the exclusive and dangerous world of high-altitude mountaineering and the unique training methods formerly practiced in the Soviet Union. One recurring theme is Boukreev's near-constant struggle to raise the large funds needed for expeditions when government funding dried up virtually overnight after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This work makes a nice companion piece to The Climb and contains a thoughtful, well-written foreword by climbing photographer Galen Rowell. Recommended for all mountaineering and larger public collections. Tim Markus, Evergreen State Coll. Lib., Olympia, WA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Boukreev is impoverished by the fall of the Soviet Union. He's struggling for the resources to climb, because climbing is a spiritual necessity for him. Then the German climbers offer to cover the costs for him to join them on their climb of K2 because they value his expertise.
However, once the group is actually climbing the mountain, they repeatedly neglect to listen to Boukreev or use his expertise, which is especially critical in areas like proper acclimatization. It's like they've forgotten why they wanted him on the climb in the first place. As the people financing the climb, they hold implicit power, and over and over again financial considerations and limits cause them to overrule Boukreev in favor of their own ignorance and over-confidence.
There is a sublime passage in this piece where Boukreev comes face to face with his frustration and forebodings about what's going on, and comes to a critical decision that may have contributed to horrors that follow.
I've bought several copies of this book for myself because I never get a copy back once I lend it to someone. Now I know better, and buy copies for friends as gifts.
I have followed the exploits of the great climbers and great climbs, rejoicing at the news of my friends' ascent of Everest with the first Canadian Everest climb in 1980, and the successes of others over time. But the disaster on Everest in 1996 galvanized me, and for the last 20 years I have read avidly the stories of the mountaineers of the Alps, the North American peaks, and of course the Himalaya and the Karakorum.
Like many readers, I was upset by the excoriating reports about Anatoly Boukreev in Krakauer's "Outside" story in '96, and then his book, "Into Thin Air". I felt Krakauer's account was less damning than many of my friends did, but a cloud seemed to hang over him, nonetheless. I was truly saddened to hear of this death on Annapurna In 1997, as he had clearly been a great mountaineer. But after that, I lost track of him. Like many Americans, I think, Boukreev was an enigma, unknowable, in no small part due to his poor English and the dearth of translations of mountaineering books written by French, Italian, and Russian writers who knew Boukreev and praised him.
That all changed a few years ago when I stumbled across the re-issue of "Into Thin Air", which included Krakaouer's rejoinders to Boukreev's "The Climb". My first thought after reading Krakauer's retort was, "Methinks he doth protest too much," but lacking any firm information otherwise, I set the controversy aside and didn't think about it much for a long time. Fast forward to 2016, and Ed Viestur's great book on his final 8000er, Annapurna. Viesturs quoted from Boukreev's diaries in his book, as well as quoting the opinions of other high mountain mountaineers who knew and respected Anatoli. I finally ordered "The Climb", and found it to be a difficult-to-read but enormously enlightening book (as was Lou Kasischke's personal account of the 1996 disaster, as well). But most important (for me, anyway), I ordered "Above the Clouds" both as a hard copy and as a Kindle download., because I wanted to read it immediately. I raced through it, enjoying every word, after I was finished I re-read it again, more slowly this time.
I love this book. Boukreev opened his heart and soul in his diaries, and his love for the mountains and mountaineering shines through. Far from the cold, unfeeling guide that he was portrayed as in America in the aftermath of the 1996 disaster, we come to see him as the consummate professional climber, a man with the genetic gifts necessary to succeed at the pinnacle of his sport but also the training, will, and discipline to capitalize on those gifts. Moreover, Boukreev opens the reader's eyes to the enormous contribution that Soviet climbers made to the mountaineering community prior to the fall of the USSR, a history which continues to go unrecognized by most Western climbers. It is abundantly clear after reading this history that Boukreev's advice to Scott Fischer on Everest in 1996 regarding the acclimatization process and the unacceptable risks of attempting the summit on May9-11 was in fact not only 100% correct, it was advice based on a thorough education in high altitude mountaineering which far exceeded the knowledge base of Fischer and Hall, and was in complete accord with the other two best-qualified mountaineers on Everest that month, Viesturs and Breasheers.
As I said, I have ordered a hard copy of this book. I want to keep it on my bookshelf alongside some of the other great mountaineering books, so I can reach for it again. Not for the detailed blow-by-blow of his climbs, but for the poetic expression of his love for the mountains, a love which I (and I suspect many of the readers who love this book) most emphatically share. On a cold and dreary day when I feel beaten down by the humdrum of daily life, I can read Anatoly's words again and be reminded of the freedom of the hills.
Most recent customer reviews
Amazing climber, unbelievable his strength and power