Recommended Reading about Everest
Editor's picks for great mountaineering reads
Everest: A Mountaineering History
by Walt Unsworth
Out of print for years, this classic history is available once again. Unsworth's volume is the definitive source for information on Everest and those who have attempted to climb it. Thorough and detailed, it's for the serious Everest enthusiast.
Everest: Mountain Without Mercy
by Broughton Coburn
A gorgeous coffee table book, Everest features amazing photographs of the mountain and the Khumbu region. It is the companion book to David Breashears's IMAX film on Everest and chronicles the May '96 disaster that is the subject of Into Thin Air.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
by Jon Krakauer
Is there anyone out there who hasn't read this bestselling cliffhanger? If it gave you Everest fever, what follows are more books on the '96 tragedy.
The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest
by Anatoli Boukreev, G. Weston Dewalt
Boukreev, the recalcitrant Russian guide who figures prominently in Krakauer's book, gives his version of the 1996 fiasco. The writing doesn't distinguish itself, but if you've got Everest fever it hardly matters. It's fascinating to hear a different side of the 1996 climb and to learn more about this compelling, highly respected climber. Sadly, Boukreev was killed by an avalanche while climbing just months after publication of his book.
High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places
by David F. Breashears
If you have an enduring passion for the 1996 Everest calamity, you'll want to read David Breashears's account of it. Breashears made the IMAX film of Everest and has summited four times. While filming in 1996, he laid aside his camera to help rescue those caught in the storm. It is also a remarkable story of the making of a mountain climber—ever since Breashears was a skinny little kid and saw a photo of Tenzing Norgay standing at the summit of Everest he had wanted to do the same. The portrait that emerges is of a principled and compassionate man as well as a disciplined, first-rate climber.
Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey
by Goran Kropp
Remember the high-spirited Swede mentioned in the Krakauer book who bicycled all the way from Sweden to the base of Everest and then proceeded to climb the mountain without the support of sherpas or other climbers? This is his story of the 1996 Everest season. Krakauer was deeply impressed by Kropp's discipline and foresight in turning back less than an hour from the summit, realizing that without the right timing and conditions, summiting would have been a reckless act. Kropp eventually managed to summit, and then got back on his bike for the 7,000-mile pedal back home. Known for his charisma and warmth, Kopp was dubbed by National Geographic Adventure Magazine "the most entertaining adventurer on Earth."
On Sept. 30, 2002, Goran Kopp was killed in a climbing accident at Frenchman Coulee, Wash. He was 35 years old.
Climbing High: A Woman's Account of Surviving the Everest Tragedy
by Lene Gammelgaard
Lene Gammelgaard's account of the 1996 tragedy has generally received disappointed reviews, but if your thirst for more on that fateful Everest season in unslakable, you'll want to read her point of view—Gammelgaard was a good friend of Scott Fischer's who was in on the planning of the expedition from the very beginning, and she became the first Scandanavian woman to summit Everest.
Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest
by Beck Weathers and Stephen P. Michaud
One of the most compelling stories of the 1996 tragedy was that of Beck Weathers, the Texas pathologist who was left for dead in the blizzard that enveloped the mountain. After lying in the snow for eighteen hours in subzero weather and oxygen-thin air, he miraculously willed himself back into consciousness and staggered half-blind into camp, where amazingly, he was left for dead yet a second time by his fellow climbers. His estranged wife, with little specific knowledge of how dire his situation was, managed to orchestrate a courageous helicopter rescue from half way around the world, the Nepali pilot risking a landing at an elevation higher than helicopters were thought to fly. Weathers, barely more than a corpse himself, insisted another injured climber be flown to safety first, all the while exhibiting his legendary sense of humor. Weathers lost both hands and his nose to frostbite and endured months of surgery and physical therapy. His story, how he came to climb Everest, his near death on the mountain, and his physical and emotional recovery thereafter, is a triumph of the human spirit.