The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest – Anatoli Boukreev & G. Weston DeWalt

Anatoli Boukreev was the Head Climbing Guide for Scott Fischer’s fated and fatal commercial expedition to Everest in 1996. Told to and by G. Weston DeWalt (surprisingly hard to find out much about him online), The Climb provides Boukreev’s account of the Mountain Madness expedition and the events of 10/11 May 1996, when both the Mountain Madness and Adventure Consultants groups made their ascents …. and descents after dark and into a storm which cost 8 lives in total.

This review sums up my own experience of reading The Climb,

Many of his [Boukreev’s] arguments were forewarned to me through Krakauer’s account and I initially began the book with unfair expectations and feelings toward Anatoli. Throughout the book I became more open minded, and while I never questioned Krakauer’s it made me realize that they may both be correct even though much of their argument is contradictory.

On finishing Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air I too thought I’d got the whole, damning picture. But The Climb is just as convincing, and just as gripping a read albeit written in a rather different style.

What comes across loud and clear, especially in the transcript of the tapes recorded by some of the Mountain Madness climber-clients while still at Base Camp, was that cultural differences, language barriers and poor planning and preparation all contributed to a level of risk that proved fatal for some. That said, I’ve read a comment (unfortunately, I can’t remember where) that in 1996 commercial climbing expeditions were still in their infancy, and that the standards we’d expect almost 20 years later should not be assumed in retrospect – but that events on Everest in 1996 may well have gone a long way towards establishing standards on the part of the businesses and expectations on the part of the clients.

Publisher webpage: The Climb – Anatoli Boukreev & G. Weston DeWalt

07 December 2014 Update: I found this from the Denver Post – Photos: 60 Years of Climbing Mount Everest, which includes pictures of many of those involved in the 1996 disaster.