Addicted to danger

Wickwire, Jim & Bullitt, Dorothy
Year Published: 

"In 1978 Jim Wickwire became the first American to top 28,250-foot K2, the second highest peak after Mt. Everest (for some, his solo bivouac near the summit the same night is an even greater feat). But it is a previous expedition to K2 three years earlier--and the author's unflinching assessment of that trip--which sets the tone for the book. ""K2, the mountain that would one day represent my greatest success,"" he writes, ""was in 1975 the scene of my greatest failure. It was a failure not because someone died or suffered a serious injury, but because my obsession to reach the summit helped doom our expedition to disappointment, discord, and, for a time, disgrace."" Wickwire's memoir of a climbing life is riveting when he sticks to the mountains--including attempts on Everest, Denali, and Aconcagua--and particularly fascinating for its candid look at the internal machinations of big-time climbing expeditions: the planning, logistics, and training as well as the egos and rivalries that can derail an expedition. The lugubrious details are also here. More than one climbing partner doesn't escape from a crevasse, but it is a price exacted by the mountains, and Wickwire treats both his lost friends and the terrain with due respect."