Thursday, June 16, 2011


Book:  K2 - Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain

Author:  Ed Viesturs with David Roberts 

Grade:  C- 

Recommended To:  Mountain lovers who can over look poor writing. 

I love reading books about mountain climbing.  Just like I love reading books about polygamists.  But, sometimes, in those two categories, you pick up a real miss.  K2 is one of those books.  I bought this at Borders for 1.50 when it was going out of business and I remember being so excited that I found this book for that cheap.  Really, thank God it was so cheap.  I would have rated this book even lower if I had paid more.

Then I started reading it.  I have to admit up front that I didn't finish it.  You've all seen my to read pile, and I just can't afford to keep reading something that I'm annoyed with.  I have too many other deliciously good books waiting for me. 

The first chapter is about Ed's own attempt to climb K2.  I loved Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air so I thought this book was going to be like that - but I was wrong.  Ed mostly just prints excerpts from his own journal and then either criticizes himself for thinking that at the time, OR uses those excerpts to bolster his criticism of how other people in his party handled the mountain. 

This guy comes off sounding like a total jackass.  Sure, he was the first American climber to climb all of the 8000ers (those are mountains that are higher than 8000 meters).  But, instead of sounding like a wizened and seasoned climber, he instead sounds like a whiny teenage girl, bitching about how others could have made his life and his climb easier.  Ugh. 

The rest of the book is about the various expeditions that have attempted K2 over the last 100 years or so.  Ed, thankfully, doesn't incorporate much of his journal, but the research seems half-assed.  It is as though he found a few letters from each time period, read the books that are already in mass print, and then sifted though for the drama.  This book could belong on MTV. 

I'm bored with Ed.  I'm bored with his writing style, his story, and his extremely pompous attitude.  Do yourself a favor and read Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer if you want a good book about mountain climbing. 

Happy Reading!!


  1. Wow! Thank you for your candid review. I admire your honesty. Donna

  2. I also love books about mountain climbing. I liked "Into Thin Air" but I liked "Dark Summit" even more (that was about the 2006 season on Mt. Everest). I might try "Dead Lucky" next, it's about a climber who was left for dead on Everest in 2006, then miraculously got up and made it down the mountain. (This is Kate S., btw :)

  3. Kate, that sounds super. I'll have to put those on my to-read list!