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Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2's Deadliest Day Paperback – May 3, 2013
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- Michael J. Ybarra, Wall Street Journal
“Easily the most riveting and important mountaineering book of the past decade.”
“An indispensable addition to the genre…a long-overdue historical correction to the familiar mountaineering story.”
- Matthew Power, Men's Journal
“An absorbing book that goes beyond the typical mountaineering tale…This book is mesmerizing.”
- Sharon Haddock, Deseret News
“It’s a testament to the thrills in this book that I scoured the notes, eager to learn how the authors wrote their account…The authors’ commendable documentary about the people who carry the gear is overtaken by the chilling adventure story of one terrible day on the mountain.”
- Smithsonian Magazine
“This compelling story brought back from K2’s slopes is a worthy tale about a little-known aspect of these high-stakes climbs.”
- Colleen Kelly, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Through phenomenal research, Zuckerman and Padoan have dug deeper than anyone else into one of the most mysterious tragedies in mountaineering history. Thanks to their efforts, the heroism and humanity of the Sherpa climbers who saved lives shine through the chaos and grief of that awful day on K2.”
- David Roberts, co-author of K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain and author of Limits of the Known
“An informative and inspirational book…I couldn’t put it down.”
- Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of Tenzing Norgay, author of Touching My Father's Soul
“Buried in the Sky reveals the heroic deeds of the Sherpa…[It] brings to light how immensely strong, loyal, and talented the Sherpa climbers are. Finally credit is given, where credit is due.”
- Ed Viesturs, bestselling author of No Shortcuts to the Top and K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain
“I admired Buried in the Sky and enjoyed it, too. Because the authors did their homework and wrote their story well, and most of all, because credit is given at long last to those who deserve it most.”
- Peter Matthiessen, author of The Snow Leopard
About the Author
Peter Zuckerman is a non-fiction writer. He has received some of the most prestigious recognitions in American journalism. At age 26 he won the Livingston Award, the largest, all-media, general reporting prize in America. His writing has also received is the National Journalism Award and the Blethan Award.
Amanda Padoan is a historian who writes about communities affected by armed conflict. She holds degrees from Harvard and University of Cambridge. Her first book, Buried in the Sky, received the National Outdoor Book Award.
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Reading this gave me a similar, immersive experience that I also received when reading ‘Into Thin Air,’ that made me feel like I was up there, helplessly watching this unfold.
The authors really captured a rich, but brief lesson history of Nepal and the practices/beliefs of the Sherpas. This was one of the strongest aspects that made this book stand out from most other mountaineering books - our perspectives is not of a western eye.
Buried in the Sky also did a wonderful job at capturing the personality of the Savage Mountain. Although not quite as tall as Everest, you quickly learn how nature behaves on this mountain, and why mere height is far from the only factor that makes K2 the danger that it is.
The only thing that I may find to be a con to this book was it's length - it's much shorter than I expected it would be.
The book starts off with a history and description of Sherpa culture and beliefs as well as a look into the culture of Pakistani porters. The protagonists are a few Pakistani high-altitude porters and Sherpas. I have to admit that I was put off by this, at first, because it's unusual for an adventure book to start from a non-Western point of origin. However, in retrospect I appreciate this a lot. I honestly had no idea that among there was so much diversity among the low-and-high altitude porters and would not have known this if this book started with a common, western point-of-view.
After the history lesson of how western climbing ambitions transformed life in the Karakorum and Himalaya regions, the story of the tragedy finally took off. I believe the authors did a perfectly fine job recounting the events leading up to the tragedy as well as the aftermath. It answered some questions that the movie "The Summit" left hanging and it was just as exciting as "Into Thin Air." Overall, a very engaging read that I won't spoil here.
I think one takeaway from this book is the spotlight put on the relationship between western climbers and the porter community. At first, I thought that the relationship was somewhat exploitative. I think this belief is widely-held; however, this book made me see that there is much more involved. No HAP or Sherpa is ever forced up a mountain. Good high-altitude porters are paid very high wages compared to the status quo to do these jobs and the decision to take jobs on dangerous peaks like K2, Nanga Parbat, etc, is not one made lightly by these men and their families.
It seems that working at high-altitude for a Sherpa or HAP is much like a westerner working a high-risk job such commercial fishing, logging, etc. In the west, we don't ever think of that work environment as exploitative. These workers are paid to take the risk, know the risks, and definitely have made their own decisions.
Top international reviews
Before this I'd read the classics Into Thin Air and Touching The Void, and I was expecting to be again swept away by the narrative in Buried In The Sky, but it just didn't happen. The authors are writers collecting accounts from sherpas, and interpreting them, so its all 2nd hand with a noticeable overlay of superlative, which spoils it more than you'd think, its pokes the authors are trying to sell as many copies as possible, and sherpas are trying to gain a little fame. At every sentence I was kept wondering if the stories were slightly exaggerated. I was conscious of having to put a bit of work into reading it, which wasn't the case for TTV & ITA.
It is difficult for even sincere professional journalists to tell a story absolutely straight, against their self, revealing personal decisions and motives that were petty or short sighted as extreme conditions crack adult minds to partially reveal a more primitive instinctive nature in us. When told straight, this sort of writing shines, the reader is pulled into the story to be 'there'.
But with BitS, this quality had been lost, or dumbed down significantly. I always felt I was a 3rd person sat in an office reviewing interesting 2nd hand accounts. My guess is it won an award for being politically noble in reviewing other people's culture, not for being a riveting read like the classic mountaineering autos its placed with.
everyone should read it a must for my personal [small] library it would not inspire me to go mountaineering though
tough and brave people [the sherpas]