Reader reviews for K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain

Ed Viesturs chronicles the climbing history of K2, the mountain he calls the Holy Grail of mountaineering. One of only sixteen men who have climbed all fourteen of the world's 8,000 meter mountains, Viesturs has a wealth of knowledge of not only K2 but mountaineering. His personal insight and experience adds color to a fascinating tale of adventure, danger and death.
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No where is mountaineering more dangerous than K2, where for every four climbers that have reached the summit, a person has died. Ed Viesturs' "K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain" details six of K2 expeditions-- with plenty of details about the highs and lows of each one. I'm fairly familiar with most of the stories he tells (having read books about three of the six expeditions he covers) but knowing the stories didn't really matter -- he has a great ability to tell stories, with enough to detail to make it interesting but not so much that it all bogs down. Very enjoyable and quick read for me.
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In K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain, Ed Viestures tells the stories of six different summit attempts on the world's second tallest mountain. The material is probably nothing new for those who have read a lot about mountaineering and K2, but everything was new to me! It was helpful to have Viestures explain what happened through his own opinions and through the words of the cimbers themselves (summarizing events from previously published books, quotations, diaries, etc). Viestures also adds any updated information learned about these expeditions in the years since other books were published. Overall, I enjoyed the stories and reading the history of this dangerous mountain. What was difficult about this book, though, was the narration. I felt like Viestures jumped all over the place. He'd be writing about an expedition and there would be references back to climbs he had made, climbs he hadn't yet written about in the book, and climbs previously mentioned. The book needed some editing to make the story more clear. I found myself confused and (sometimes) bored with some of the passages because of all the sidetracking in the writing. Overall, though, Viestures is an impressive man (a climber first, not a writer!) and I enjoyed reading this book.
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Viesteurs reviews six different climbs or attempts on K2. Having already read most of his source material I still enjoyed this book as he colours events with his own experiences and provides some new and different insights.
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It is a good book but it jumps all over the place and is a bit hard to follow.
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I loved Ed's tenacity and patience in his climbs. This is something which is slowly ebbing in the mad rush for instant gratification. Also loved the details in the 1986 incident. Good book overall.
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Ed Viesturs is one of the 18 people ever (and the only American) to have climbed all fourteen eight thousanders. It's a very rare feat- no woman has achieved it as yet. Yet, he is surprisingly level headed and devoid of ego. He ascribes his success to hard work, common sense and lack of bravura. He doesn't put it that way and it's not that blunt but this is what can be read between the lines. This cannot be said about all climbers though, and it's is especially visible when climbing the world's most treacherous mountain- K2. Many lose their lives in 'getting to the top fever', by being ill prepared, overconfident or blindly ambitious. K2 is the world's second tallest mountain and four times as deadly as Everest. One in four climbers dies there. Viesturs almost lost his life there in 1992 when he and his partner Scott Fisher (he later lost his life on the infamous Everest climb described by Krakauer in Into Thin Air) were swept away by an avalanche, and it was Viesturs who managed to save them both. Viesturs explores the remarkable history of the mountain by examining eight different expeditions to the top, and of those who wanted to conquer it.Viesturs has a remarkably high opinion of Polish climbers, which I, being Polish, duly note.
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In this book, Viesturs chronicles the different expeditions that have attempted the summit of K2. This mountain, the second highest, is infamous as one of the more difficult to climb. For example, in 2008 290 people reached the summit of Everest with one death. On K2 the same year, 18 people reached the summit and 11 people died. The moniker most attached to this peak is "savage". Viesturs is a local climber and has been interviewed frequently on the local NPR station. He is a great motivational speaker. This book, however, fell somewhat flat for me as it was more of storytelling and did not have an edge that made me want to keep turning the pages.
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