Friday, January 8, 2016

by Mick Conefrey

The toughest mountain to climb in the world doesn't have a real name. Maybe because it's so difficult to get to that it didn't warrant having a proper nomenclature. A British officer in 1856 first laid eyes on it when he climbed up 16,000 ft on another mountain to do surveying. He saw two peaks located in Karakoram, north west of the Himalayas.The officer designated them as K1 and K2. It would be the latter one (K2) that people would set their sights on.
The height of K2 is 28,251 ft which is second to Everest, but it's much harder to ascend. It can kill you on the way up and on the way down. For a mountaineer, it's the ultimate challenge: the slopes are extremely steep, the altitude is so extreme (think headaches), it's in the middle of nowhere, and the weather is capricious (clear, beautiful skies then horrible, icy storms).
At the beginning of the twentieth century, several explorers from different countries were determined to be the first to get to the top.
The Ghosts of K2 is a tremendous story that will keep you riveted in your seat. Author Mick Conefrey definitely knows how to write a great narrative. (He previously wrote about Everest and has made films about mountaineering.) Through archives and letters, plus interviews with survivors of K2, Conefrey is able to make you feel as if you are right there with the climbers. 
If you're interested in exploits of mountain climbing and are looking for a phenomenal read, get this book.
Very highly recommended.