Friday, September 7, 2012

Buried in the Sky - Peter Zuckerman, Amanda Padoan

Several years ago, I was shocked to find that I enjoyed reading Jon Krakauer's book Into Thin Air.  I am not a mountain climber or any kind of extreme sports fan, but I was taken by the idea of people pushing their limits to conquer nature, and also the competing notions of hubris.  And of course, I think, it is impossible to read a book about climbing tall peaks without wondering about the lives of the Sherpas and other people on the mountains who are handling all the gear and preparations for these climbers - many who are inexperienced and have no business being on the mountain in the first place.  Zuckerman and Padoan have taken a hard look at the lives of those Sherpas - and written this book about the role several of them played in a tragic expedition on K2.  I found it interesting to learn about the reasons one becomes a Sherpa (meaning a person who assists with expeditions - as opposed to one who is a Sherpa by ethnic designation) - and what it means to the families of those who are away helping foreigners and risking their lives.  Ultimately, Buried in the Sky, focuses on the heroic efforts by one Sherpa to rescue another.  I did find the different perspective of this book quite interesting, and I'm glad someone told this story.  But, because I am not a climbing nut, I feel like if I've read about one ice storm, I've read about them all, and it was difficult not to read this book as merely a re-telling of Into Thin Air (even though I understand it's about a totally different situation).  All in all, a gripping crazy read, and one I think that someone with more of a background or experience in climbing would appreciate, but one that is still worth checking out even if you're simply an armchair adventurer like myself.

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