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Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Women of K2 Paperback – Illustrated, December 27, 2005
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“For mountain-climbing enthusiasts and women’s history buffs, Jordan’s well-researched survey is worthwhile reading...” (Publishers Weekly)
“SAVAGE SUMMIT fills an interesting and neglected place in mountaineering literature.” (American Alpine Club Magazine)
About the Author
Jennifer Jordan has lived at the base of K2 twice while writing and producing the National Geographic documentary The Women of K2. She is a writer, producer, public speaker, and journalist, having created, produced, and hosted her own public radio talk show. Jennifer lives with her husband, filmmaker and adventurer Jeff Rhoads, in Salt Lake City.
- Item Weight : 9.3 ounces
- Paperback : 328 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0060587164
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060587161
- Product Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.79 x 8 inches
- Publisher : It Books (December 27, 2005)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,260,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Jennifer Jordan concludes that Chantal's years of mountaineering experience would make it highly unlikely that she would "allow" herself to be smothered in her tent in a snowstorm--that it would be a horrible "rookie mistake" for her not to know to shovel out periodically during the storm. However, Jennifer Jordan spends the bulk of the chapters about Chantal detailing how she was very good at manipulating her male teammates to do mountain work, relating stories from multiple partners (albeit male) indicating that Chantal never hesitated to sleep in and let the guy do the hard work (whether laying ropes, pitching tents, or going to a lower camp to pick up a sleeping bag). Chantal is a fantastic climber, but from the snapshot we obtain from the stories in the book, I can see it being highly probably that she and her friend Pemba Sherpa reached a camp spot, he no doubt did all of the work prepping it, and then she went in, let him make water, food, etc, and she promptly went to sleep secure in the belief that he would get up the multiple times necessary to clear the tent in the storm. Ms Jordan even notes how quickly one can suffocate in a closed tent. The simple mistake of Pemba Sherpa falling asleep could have doomed them both to a deayh from smothering, and then damage to the bodies by avalanche post mortem.
In short, Ms Jordan didn't sufficiently build her case that Chantal had the adequate camp skills in order to save her own life in a storm. Climb an 8000 meter peak? Yes. But all stories of Chantal in camp, whether at BC or on the mountain, indicate how much she hated camp work and would leave it to others. Chantal was an excellent climber, but not a mountaineer, in my opinion. Because mountaineers actually live on the mountains whereas Chantal just climbed.
Jordan's writing style pulls you into the stories of these five incredible climbers. As flawed as these women are, we identify with them, cheer for them, grieve for them. We learn about their careers in the mountains, their personal lives, their love lives, their quirks, and for the two survivors, what they did after K2. The story of Wanda Rutkiewicz' death on Kangchenjunga in 1992, six years after her summit of K2, was particularly moving.
I could not put this book down. The only thing that would make this book better would be an update that includes the story of Edurne Pasaban, a Spanish climber who summitted K2 in 2004 and Oh Eun-Sun who summitted in 2007. I would be particularly interested in Jordan's take on the competition between these two women to become the first female to conquer all 14 of the 8,000+ meter summits. The controversy that resulted could even become a book that stands on its own, and Jennifer Jordan would be the ideal writer for that book.
By the end, it was also clear that the author was unable to maintain journalistic distance from one of her subjects. In fact, it seemed as though she had fallen in love with the climber who served as the anchor of her book. This seems to have led her down the path of casting aspersion on the incredible achievements of Edurne Pasaban and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, two incredible, determined women that have surpassed the author's hero and summitted all 14 8000m peaks.
Top reviews from other countries
The premise is excellent, describing the efforts of the first women to summit K2, along with other background biographical information on each of them. The delivery though is melodramatic, overblown and assumes some sort of higher knowledge of how the women thought or what they said. Admittedly there may not be a lot of recorded material covering all their speech, thoughts and feelings, however that to me doesn't seem to be a good enough excuse for just making things up, even if you tell us in advance that this is what you've done.
The assumption that any negative aspect to their expeditions were down to sexism may be a blanket explanation for something far more nuanced. I have no difficulty in believing that a male-dominated sphere like mountaineering has an element of implicit and explicit sexism, however this doesn't account for the fact that to be a mountaineer in the first place one has to have a certain type of character and that collecting single-minded, driven individuals together on a trip of extreme privation may cause sparks to fly.
I've read a lot of books on mountaineering and I truly believe that there are great stories to tell about these women but this book does not do them justice.
I found the book well written and very interesting. Bear in mind that the explicit aim of the book is to look at issues that female mountaineers have with their male counterparts and vice versa so this is a running theme through the book. It certainly shines some light into the problems and indicted valid concerns on both sides. I did find that the author didn't hesitate in pointing out criticisms of the female mountaineers. I'd read a couple of autobiographical works by the women and this book will ensure I read more both on K2 and the people involved. A good book for anyone with an interest in the subject.
It raises moral issues (is it right for mothers - and indeed fathers - to risk their lives?) without once being moralistic and shines light on the darker sides of human motivation without once being judgmental. The odd sentence or two are slightly overwritten but in the context of the storms, the heroism, the pain, and the death it is difficult to see how this could have been avoided. Never once did I think, oh come on, Ms Jordan. Indeed understatement is much more frequent.
The novelistic technique when she gets inside the mind of her dead heroines is particularly well done.
People set out to do something challenging, raise their heads above the parapet, and there is always some big mouth troll somewhere putting a spoiler on it, I have experienced this myself first hand. I was not surprised that the mountaineering world was no different, all those male ego's. That is what makes these women and their achievements even more remarkable as far as I am concerned.