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Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2's Deadliest Dayby Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan
Thursday, June 13, 2013 07:30 PM
Powell's City of Books on Burnside, Portland, OR
For as long as Westerners have been climbing the Himalayas, Sherpas have been the unsung heroes in the background. In August 2008, when 11 climbers lost their lives on K2, two Sherpas survived. Peter Zuckerman's Buried in the Sky (W. W. Norton) reveals their astonishing story for the first time, re-creating one of the most dramatic catastrophes in alpine history.
Synopses & Reviews
When Edmund Hillary first conquered Mt. Everest, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was at his side. Indeed, for as long as Westerners have been climbing the Himalayas, Sherpa porters have been the anonymous experts in the background. In August 2008, when eleven climbers died on the world's most dangerous peak, Chhiring Dorje Sherpa and Pasang Lama survived. More than mere "porters," these men had emerged from poverty and political turmoil to become two of the best mountaineers on earth. Based on unprecedented access and interviews in rare and dying languages, Buried in the Sky reveals the Sherpas' story for the first time. The book travels back to Chhiring and Pasang's home villages, exploring their customs and culture, and then follows them to Base Camp and their dramatic encounter in the Death Zone. This thrilling book reveals a world in which climbing represents not only the most lucrative career for impoverished young men but also a terrible sin against the mountain.
"Buried in the Sky reveals the heroic deeds of the Sherpa....[It] brings to light how immensely strong, loyal and talented the Sherpa climbers are." Ed Viesturs, bestselling author of No Shortcuts to the Top and K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain
"An informative and inspirational book...I couldn't put it down. I am proud to know of the determination and loyalty of the Sherpa climbers and their tireless efforts to risk their lives for the other climbers." Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of Tenzing Norgay, author of Touching My Father's Soul
"A well-researched, detailed, and fast-paced narrative of the 2008 disaster that claimed the lives of eleven mountaineers descending from the summit of of K2, Buried in the Sky, will appeal to every mountaineer (armchair or otherwise) interested in the climbing history of that beautiful and deadly peak. Particularly welcome is Zuckerman and Padoan's focus on the experience and lives of two Sherpa climbers, Chhiring Dorje Sherpa and Pasang Lama, who at the risk of their own lives heroically aided others in getting off the mountain safely, and without whose efforts the death count would likely have been even higher. It is reassuring to know that, even in an age of commercialized hyper-individualism on the world's highest mountains, there are some mountaineers who still live by the values of the 'brotherhood of the rope.'" Maurice Isserman, co-author of Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes
"Zuckerman and Padoan have dug deeper than anyone else. Thanks to their efforts, the heroism and humanity of the Sherpa climbers who saved lives shine through the chaos and grief of that awful day on K2." David Roberts, co-author of Ks: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain and author of On the Ridge Between Life and Death
"The book takes pains to explore their culture and the burden felt by such impoverished young men who take on dangerous work that pays well yet remains an offense to the mountains they revere. Sobering." Library Journal
"I admired Buried in the Sky and enjoyed it, too. Because the authors did their homework and wrote their story well, and most of all, because credit is given at long last to those who deserve it most." Peter Matthiessen, author of The Snow Leopard
"Pacey, compelling, and clear, this is an excellent account of what happened that fateful August day. The Himalayan-born high-altitude workers leap off the page with all their hopes and fears — and astonishing courage. Buried in the Sky is one of the very best books on the tragedy." Ed Douglas, author of Tenzing: Hero of Everest
"Buried in the Sky is a gripping account of that fateful day in 2008 when eleven climbers lost their lives on K2. As it unravels the series of events that resulted from the unbridled ambition set loose on a dangerous mountain, it probes deeply into the lives of those courageous and unheralded professionals — the "thin-air" workhorses from Nepal and Pakistan. Heartbreaking. Sober. Compelling." Bernadette McDonald, author of Freedom Climbers
"Buried in the Sky isn't just the story of the worst climbing disaster in the history of the 'Savage Mountain,' but an important introduction to the native climbers from Pakistan, Nepal, and Tibet whose labors make most high-altitude expeditions possible, and whose heroic efforts keep the death tolls on K2, Everest, and other Himalayan peaks from rising even higher. The Sherpas climb off the page and carry a narrative that is as fast and as gripping as their superhuman ascents." Michael Kodas, author of High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed
"Buried in the Sky will appeal to every mountaineer (armchair or otherwise) interested in the climbing history of K2, that beautiful and deadly peak." Maurice Isserman, co-author of Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes
"A fast-paced narrative of one of the worst climbing disasters in the history of K2.... In interviews with the sherpas and their families, Zuckerman and Padoan offer glimpses into the climbing culture that are as rare as the thin air the climbers breathe in the Death Zone....A provocative perspective on one of the world's most expensive and deadly athletic adventures." Kirkus Reviews
"[A]n accurate, and riveting, account...a work of obsessive reporting. [The authors] weave a narrative that is hair-raising and moving, but also precise....[W]hat makes their book an indispensable addition to the genre is the way the authors explore the 'cultural crevasse' underlying the ill-fated expeditions on K2. They provide a long-overdue historical correction to the familiar mountaineering story." Matthew Power
"It's a testament to the thrills in this book that I scoured the notes, eager to learn how the authors wrote their account of the 2008 disaster that claimed the lives of 11 people on K2....[T]he authors' commendable documentary about the people who carry the gear is overtaken by the chilling adventure story of one terrible day on the mountain." Men's Journal
"Buried in the Sky is a compelling account of the men who have literally shouldered the rest of the world's mountaineers up K2." Norman Ollestad, best-selling author of Crazy for the Storm
"Enthralling...phenomenal research and vivid writing create a memorable portrait not only of the events on the mountain but also of the people who make modern high-altitude climbing possible." Wall Street Journal
When Edmund Hillary first conquered Mt. Everest, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay was at his side. Indeed, for as long as Westerners have been climbing the Himalaya, Sherpas have been the unsung heroes in the background. In August 2008, when eleven climbers lost their lives on K2, the world's most dangerous peak, two Sherpas survived. They had emerged from poverty and political turmoil to become two of the most skillful mountaineers on earth. Based on unprecedented access and interviews, Buried in the Sky reveals their astonishing story for the first time.
Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan explore the intersecting lives of Chhiring Dorje Sherpa and Pasang Lama, following them from their villages high in the Himalaya to the slums of Kathmandu, across the glaciers of Pakistan to K2 Base Camp. When disaster strikes in the Death Zone, Chhiring finds Pasang stranded on an ice wall, without an axe, waiting to die. The rescue that follows has become the stuff of mountaineering legend.
At once a gripping, white-knuckled adventure and a rich exploration of Sherpa customs and culture, Buried in the Sky re-creates one of the most dramatic catastrophes in alpine history from a fascinating new perspective.
About the Author
Peter Zuckerman is one of the youngest journalists ever to have received the Livingston Award. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Amanda Padoan writes for Explorersweb, a mountaineering news source. She lives in Los Angeles, California.
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