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High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed Paperback – May 5, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Journalist Kodas has written a disturbing account of stupidity and greed on the slopes of Mount Everest. On assignment for the Hartford Courant in 2004, Kodas joined an expedition led by a couple who had summited the mountain more than a dozen times between them. As he moved up Everest, Kodas watched his expedition disintegrate in a mess of recriminations, thefts, lies and violence. At the same time, a sociopathic guide was leading a 69-year-old doctor to his death on the unforgiving slopes. The twin disasters led Kodas to delve into the commercialization of Mount Everest, and to discover that such experiences were becoming a depressing norm. A thorough reporter, Kodas does an excellent job exposing the ways in which money and ego have corrupted the traditional cultures of both mountaineers and their Sherpa guides. He also brings a painful focus to the delusions, misunderstandings and indifference that allow climbers to literally step over the bodies of dying people on their way to the top. Oddly enough, Kodas writes less ably about himself, and the reasons for his own expedition's collapse remain unclear; the sequencing of story lines is confusing as well. Nevertheless, his narrative is as hard to turn away from as a slow-motion train wreck. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"The perfect follow-up to Krakauer's riveting account of a perfect storm."―Miami Herald
"Kodas's absorbing description of the narrow moral compass governing human interaction at the top of the world is bound to shock both armchair adventurers and seasoned mountaineers."―Chicago Tribune
"(Kodas) discovered more deceit, thievery, and double-crossing among his climbers than you find in a Martin Scorsese gangster film. High Crimes is both an adventure story and an expos of a sport riddled with danger and corruption."―Washington Post Book World
"Kodas's descriptions of the struggles confronting even the best-prepared climbers leave the reader breathless."―Dallas Morning News
"[High Crimes] is hair-raising and lays bare the excitement and fear that face great explorers at the top of the world. . . . Well written, and as deftly plotted as the finest mystery novel, Kodas brings to life a disturbing picture of society at high altitude."―Austin Chronicle
"Kodas does an excellent job exposing the ways in which money and ego have corrupted the traditional cultures of both mountaineers and their Sherpa guides. . . . His narrative is as hard to turn away from as a slow-motion train wreck."―Publishers Weekly
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Top customer reviews
I struggled with this rating. It's well written, with no obvious typo/grammatical errors, but I don't know why his editor or publisher didn't suggest another way to tell these stories that would have been more reader-friendly or make the flow more coherent. I'm still not really sure what the "Fate of Everest" is because that wasn't really addressed in the end.
On a mountain in which the fragility of life is so evident even small crimes as sleeping in someone's tent and sleeping bag can be life threatening larger crimes can have dire consequences. As Kodas states:
"Those attempting to domesticate The Goddess Mother of the Universe with ropes and satellites shouldn't be surprised that she isn't submitting gracefully to being a mere mortal's mountain."
At high altitude with little oxygen the brain becomes impaired as does judgment at a time when they are both most needed. Memories blur and the mind becomes confused, reality becomes obscured. The focus becomes the summit and we find people quite willing to step past the dying in their quest for the top.
Kodas explains that there are high stakes on Everest money, fame and prestige are all things which will bring out the criminal element. Selling dysfunctional oxygen containers, lying about experience, neglect and shirking responsibilities, spousal abuse, threats, assault and fraud are all detailed in High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed. If you find this interesting especially with the setting of Mount Everest, this is a book you should read.
If it were not for the views and the wonderous mountains I think one would do better to climb more isolated mountains with fewer groups, less garbage closer to home. I wouldn't even want to be around most of the unbounded egos described in this book. Seems to defy the very notion of why one mountaineers in the first place.
Having been the Himalayas a few times over the past 20 yrs I was immediately struck by the fact that the carrying capacity of environment is out of balance with the number of people there. It has reached the point where you are seriously hindered by large groups of tourists with their own agenda and their own egos to assuage. At times I have stood beside the trail into Everest base camp and had to wait 30 minutes for the crowd of German tourists to pass by me.
The attitudes are a problem as well. Mr. Kodas describes the cold egotistical distance that surrounds some camps, literally camped beside one another, yet who do not talk to each other. This state of affairs extends to the mountain where common courtesy is ground into the dust as the desire for profit for the expeditions and the desire for a fully placated ego for the new urban-corporate-sports-gym climber dominate the mountain. Greed. Money and sex are never far beneath the service as Kodas relates.
I personally could relate to the attitudes of some of the people Kordas describes. I will never forget the lady we deemed the "Canadian Cow" from Montreal, who severely reproached me for washing a child's parasitic wounds with soap and then bandaging her legs, giving her teh soap and telling her to wash regularly.... "ohhhh, you shouldn't do that with them, it just encourages them... besides, who knows... they might have HIV" (???!!). Needless to say, this spirit of outright meanness is not only profoudly depressing, but seems, according to Kordas, to be getting worse and worse.
Everest is still the highest, but there are greater challenges in the outback of Australia, or the nether reaches of so many unclimbed peaks of Canada, or Russia or South America or other places in the Himalayas... but no longer on Everest.
Very nice book, but depressing at places.
Most recent customer reviews
Is there anyone really "guilty" about Dr Nil s death???is this "guide" still working as one??Read more