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Written by experienced climber Nick Heil, Dark Summit is both a riveting account of a notorious climbing season and a troubling investigation into whether the pursuit of the ultimate mountaineering prize has spiraled out of control.
"A dramatic story, ably and convincingly told . . . A chilling look at the precarious line between success and tragedy."—Kirkus Reviews
On May 15, 2006, a young British climber named David Sharp lay dying near the top of Mount Everest while forty other climbers walked past him on their way to the summit. A week later, Lincoln Hall, a seasoned Australian climber, was left for dead near the same spot. Hall's death was reported around the world, but the next day he was found alive after spending the night on the upper mountain with no food and no shelter.
If David Sharp's death was shocking, it was hardly singular: ten others died attempting to reach the summit that year. In this meticulous inquiry into what went wrong, Nick Heil tells the full story of the deadliest year on Everest since the infamous season of 1996. As more climbers attempt the summit each year, Heil shows how increasingly risky expeditions and unscrupulous outfitters threaten to turn Everest into a deadly circus.
In this mountain-climbing narrative, Heil examines the 2006 climbing season on Mount Everest that resulted in 11 deaths. Heil focuses on the fate of two climbers: Lincoln Hall and David Sharp, whose attempt at a solo ascent was his third try at conquering Everest. Heil, a former editor at Outside, analyzes Sharp's climb and subsequent death as he tries to deduce if the young Brit could have survived given the fact he was still alive when 40 climbers passed him on the way to the summit. Lincoln Hall, meanwhile, was left for dead below the mountain's Second Step, but thanks to perseverance and good fortune he made it home alive. Heil seamlessly intertwines these amazing storylines with well-thought out reflections on the ethics of high-altitude climbing and the problems that come with the commercialization of climbing the world's largest peak. Furthermore, Heil, an experienced climber, proves adroit at explaining such climbing perils as freezing death and acclimatization. Enthralling from start to finish, Heil has created a timely, thought-provoking story that will thrill adrenaline junkies and armchair adventurers.