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The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest Hardcover – November, 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 385 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

The Climb is Russian mountaineer Anatoli Boukreev's account of the harrowing May 1996 Mount Everest attempt, a tragedy that resulted in the deaths of eight people. The book is also Boukreev's rebuttal to accusations from fellow climber and author Jon Krakauer, who, in his bestselling memoir, Into Thin Air, suggests that Boukreev forfeited the safety of his clients to achieve his own climbing goals. Investigative writer and Climb coauthor G. Weston DeWalt uses taped statements from the surviving climbers and translated interviews from Boukreev to piece together the events and prove to the reader that Boukreev's role was heroic, not opportunistic. Boukreev refers to the actions of expedition leader Scott Fischer throughout the ascent, implying that factors other than the fierce snowstorm may have caused this disaster. This new account sparks debate among both mountaineers and those who have followed the story through the media and Krakauer's book. Readers can decide for themselves whether Boukreev presents a laudable defense or merely assuages his own bruised ego.

From Library Journal

This is a first-person account of the tragic climbing experience in May 1996 on Mount Everest that left eight hikers dead and several others struggling to stay alive. Boukreev, a top-rated high-altitude climber originally from the Soviet Union, uses notes and memories recorded only five days after the tragic events to tell what happened on the world's highest mountain. He writes partly in response to other best-selling accounts (e.g., Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, LJ 1/97). From the first chapter, as members of the ill-fated group meet and organize for the climb, to the last chapter, which raises questions still unanswered, a detailed, day-by-day description of this chilling tale is given. Fast-paced and easy to read, Boukreev's story of adventure and survival will remain in the reader's memory long after the book is finished. Recommended for public libraries.
-?Stephanie Papa, Baltimore Cty. Circuit Court Law Lib.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (November 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312168144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312168148
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (385 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #490,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The debate that still rages over the relative credibility of the various books written about the 1996 Everest disaster is remarkable both for its intensity and its longevity. The fact that people are still arguing passionately about what happened nearly four years ago is kind of mind boggling. I've been following the debate from the sidelines ever since the summer of 1996, and I read both "The Climb" (TC) and "Into Thin Air" (ITA) as soon as they came out. Since then I've read almost all the other books about the tragedy as well. And recently I read the new expanded 1999 paperback editions of TC and ITA, each of which has been revised throughout, and each of which has a lengthy new postscript that answers charges made by the other book. If you have more than a passing interest in Everst 96, you will want to read both these new editions, even if, like me, you already read the first editions. The new dueling postscripts are mandatory reading if you want to have a better understanding of what happened. In my opinion, the truth lies somewhere betweeen the Krakauer account and the Boukreev/DeWalt account, although I think ITA is by far the better (and more believable) book. You, however, might feel differently. Read both new editions and decide for yourself.
All of the different Everest books offer slightly different versions of the same events. This probably shouldn't surprise anybody, considering the effects of altitude and extreme stress on memory. I generally give Krakauer the benefit of the doubt over the other books, though, because he was the only author who took detailed notes while he was on the mountain (a widely respected reporter and mountaineer, he was sent to Everest specifically to document the 1996 climbing season).
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Anatoli Boukreev, one of the guides on Scott Fischer's ill-fated 1996 Mountain Madness Everest expedition, feeling much maligned by Jon Krakauer's article, and subsequent best-seller, "Into Thin Air" (ITA), sets out to set the record straight in "The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest" (TC).
While ITA is a first-person account, TC is written from a third person POV, with long passages of Boukreev recounting the events and his impressions of the events of May 1996 (translated from Russian). What comes through most is Boukreev's wish to clear his name. Having read both books, I believe that Mr. Boukreev has accomplished his goal. He did save several clients of Fischer's expedition and assisted several of the climbers from Rob Hall's Adventure Consultants expedition. Although he was not able to rescue Scott Fischer, neither were Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa or Ed Viesturs and Todd Burleson. It seems clear that Fischer succumbed to high-altitude cerebral edema.
What is most amazing is how lucky the Mountain Madness expedition was. The early sections recounts the logistical problems the team faced, including problems obtaining adequate supplies of oxygen, and the toll they must have taken on Fischer. However, the only casualty of the Mountain Madness expedition was Fischer himself. In contrast, Adventure Consultants lost their leader, Hall, guide Andy Harris, and clients Doug Hansen and Yasuko Namba.
In terms of readability, I believe ITA's first-person view makes it a more gripping account. Boukreev's book is too obvious an attempt to refute Krakauer. (The article Krakauer initially wrote for "Outside" must have been more critical than the book because I don't recall the latter particularly assigning blame to Boukreev.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the story about the 1996 Everest tragedy told from the perspective of Anatoli Boukreev, who was one of the guides on the ill-fated Mountain Madness expedition. It is written almost as a rebuttal to the perceived criticism by Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air) of Boukreev's actions on that ill-fated Everest climb.

This is a poorly written account that is oftentimes confusing. It has none of the clarity of prose found in Krakauer's "Into Thin Air". It is, however, an important chronicle from someone who was there on Everest, and who had a pivotal role in the tragic events. Boukreev provides an insider's view of the Mountain Madness expedition itself and of the preparations which go into such a journey. It is packed with many interesting details which will delight Everest junkies.

Whether Boukreev's actions on the mountain were irresponsible, in that he did not use supplementary oxygen to summit and immediately returned to camp after reaching the summit, rather than remain with the expedition's clients, or whether he was just following the orders of the expedition leader, Scott Fisher, who himself died on Everest, is an issue which will long be debated in mountaineering circles. There is no doubt, however, that Boukreev did, in fact, single handedly rescue three of the climbers during a raging blizzard; climbers who without his intervention would have died. Given the extreme weather conditions, his foray up the mountain to rescue climbers is nothing less than heroic.

Boukreev's is an important voice in the Everest annals, more so now that his voice has been silenced. On Christmas day, 1997, Boukreev died in an avalanche on Annapurna. RIP.
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