Friday, October 05, 2012

K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs

While I was reading the Himalaya by Michael Palin, DH and I briefly exchanged notes about the books we were reading and surprisingly they coincided on K2, the second highest mountain peak of the world that I always believed to be in India, well because I was taught so in the ‘general knowledge’ class but never bothered to look up on the map precisely. It was in the Himalayan range somewhere in the state of Jammu and Kashmir or so I thought but reading the book by Michael Palin, I realized that that part of the Himalaya now belongs to Pakistan and the GK books haven’t been updated after both India and Pakistan acquired independence from the British rule, by the time I must have read them.

After reading the Michael Palin book, I was so enamored by the Himalayas and the high peaks that I wanted to take a second trip to feel it for myself, go higher than the mountain that we had visited this summer, hike and camp and rejoice in the lap of nature. While that dream shapes itself, I resorted to reading the book that my husband was reading. Though DH and I have a very different outlook on life, our choices in books often coincides or should I say, he knows my temperament and recommends book accordingly.

K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs, is a well written document of the entire history of attempts and then eventual successful climbs to the second highest peak including the one of his own. Ed holds the record for being the first American to climb the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks. The book was very inspiring, not necessarily to inspire you to climb a mountain but the way you live life and abide by your principals and no matter what, not lose your humanity. It touched several chords about life in general, leadership, devotion, service, honor, role of a good leader, team work, helping other, success and its definition, and most of all self-reliance. And as far as mountain climbing itself is concerned, I do want to get to the base camp of the Everest now more than ever.

Ed emphasizes the need to maintain the innate nature of climbers as I had mentioned when writing about our first hike with kids to the top of Diamond Head Crater in Hawaii. I almost took it for granted but was sad to read about how once climbing mountains becomes a profession, people start bringing the rat-race mentality into such a joyful activity as well. It is a good read and very well compiled history of one of the most dangerous mountain in the world.

After reading the book, I re-watched one of my favorite movies, ‘Vertical Limit’, for one it was based on a K2 climb and also since Ed featured in the movie. Now that I know a thing or half about mountain climbing especially since the book was very fresh in my memory when I watched the movie for the nth time, I was so disappointed in the movie. It was a lot of drama without actually showing the things that mountaineers actually face, I don’t ever want to watch it again, I am so over it.

Anyways, so if you haven’t watched it till now, watch vertical limit before you read the book 'K2- Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain', which will be a fun read with the Fall in the air and Minnesota winter approaching fast and the snow piled high right outside your bedroom window.

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