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Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Women of K2

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  1,456 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
Though not as tall as Everest, the "Savage Mountain" is far more dangerous. Located on the border of China and Pakistan, K2 has some of the harshest climbing conditions in the world. Ninety women have scaled Everest but of the six women who reached the summit of K2, three lost their lives on the way back down the mountain and two have since died on other climbs.

In Savage S
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 27th 2005 by It Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Sarah O'Toole
It's kind of unfair reviewing this after reading Robert MacFarlane's superb "Mountains of the Mind" because it just came across as trashy journalism in comparison. I know this book was about the world's second-highest mountain and the women who have climbed it, but that's no excuse for its lacking depth. The premise of the book is amazing, but she doesn't really go anywhere with it and the feminist angle is some of the most simplistic man-bashing tripe I've ever read. Not that I'm against femini ...more
Well crafted account of the five women who cliimbed K2, the second highest mountain, between 1986 and 1995, all of whom died there or on another mountain at a later point. As women, they faced many special challenges in their climbing careers, mainly the gender bias reflecting the attitude of "No Girl's Allowed" in this masculine enterprise. Uplifting and satisfying read--as good as "Into Thin Air". The author Jennifer Jordan took six years to write the book, and that shows in the effort. Here i ...more
Jul 17, 2011 CJ rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-books
I have a weird affinity for mountain climbers. I love the idea of scaling a mountain and sort of understand why people do it (if I could only get over my fear of heights!). What I don't understand is why people continue to climb even after they've come off a mountain with frost bitten toes and fingers or some sort of high altitude sickness that requires they not climb - or the people with children waiting for them back home. I think I read mountain climbing books to try and figure out what makes ...more
Alice Lippart
Mar 10, 2017 Alice Lippart rated it liked it
Fascinating and worth the read if you're into this topic, even though it has some flaws.
While I was very excited to read about the women to climb K2, I just couldn't finish this book because I couldn't take any more of Jennifer Jordan's writing. I'm as feminist as the next girl, but her overarching theme that mountaineers are all sexist and offended by the very thought of women climbers is a bit much.

For example, I've read several books about the 1975 American expedition of K2... and all agree the expedition was a disaster because of the strained relationships between all of the cl
Ann Gimpel
Oct 14, 2012 Ann Gimpel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
This is an odd mountaineering book and I've read at least a hundred climbing sagas. Maybe more. Plus I climb myself. What is off-putting about this book is it's told in a disjointed fashion. A summit team is high on the mountain and the author launches into a thirty page digression about one of the climbers beginning with their childhood. By the time the author finally gets back to the climb, I've practically forgotten about it. In many ways, I suppose it's similar to the challenge of folding ba ...more
Jan 24, 2017 Johanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
An amazing read which is just beyond inspiring. Those that climb Everest and k2 are unbelievable but the women who do it are even more awe inspiring. I really recommend!
Erika Nerdypants
Incredible read, I just finished and I'm not sure I can write a review without letting this book settle, but I also want to try and capture the emotions it evoked in me. First off, I don't entirely understand my fascination with books about mountaineering, but I suspect the fact that my father loved climbing in the Austrian and Swiss Alps as a young man has something to do with it. I never had much interest in the subject while he was alive, but now I wish I had listened to his stories and asked ...more
Loved the women's stories, especially Wanda Rutkiewicz - what a legacy. Hated the overblown style of the author, though, especially when she took it upon herself to put thoughts in people's heads and invariably chose the most trite, cringeworthy clichés imagineable. Also hated the way she constantly talked about these women's looks (starting with describing Fanny Bullock Workman as "a solid plug of a woman with a homely face" - WTF??), and not a single mention of any of them went by without some ...more
Feb 10, 2010 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished reading Savage Summit by Jennifer Jordan last night. I really enjoyed the book. One of the best written climbing/mountaineering books I have read so far. It is also the first of this genre I have read that was not autobiographical, so not sure if that has anything to do with it.

Anyway, the book is somewhat of a women's history of climbing K2, the second highest peak in the world. K2 may not be as high as everest, but it is certainly more dangerous. At the time this book went to pr
Karen Beath
Sep 04, 2013 Karen Beath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Savage Summit
by karenlb
Savage Summit by Jennifer Jordan documents the lives of the women who have summited K2 - the second highest mountain. At the time of writing, 6 women had summited K2 - three of which lost their lives on the descent. In fact, the mortality rate for women attempting to climb K2 is far higher than other mountains. So, apparently, K2 doesn't like women, or at least that's one of the superstitions carried through the mountaineering world.

Being a lover of trekking and mountain c
Aug 08, 2011 Beth666ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting companion to the book (Coffey) I just read about spouses/lovers of mountaineers paying the price when the climbers die. Jordan gives capsule biographies of the five women mountaineers to have successfully summited K2: Wanda Rutkiewicz, Liliane Barrard, Julie Tullis, Alison Hargreaves [edit: to fix spelling of AH], and Chantal Mauduit. These women were varied, interesting, and flawed, and the author does a good job of covering the fullness of their biographies, positive and ...more
Kelsey Porter
Jan 10, 2016 Kelsey Porter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took her many years to finish this book, and I believe it shows in her writing and in the details she uncovered about each woman.

Being a solo woman traveler and adventurer myself, I often found myself relating to these woman. Jennifer does an excellent job of perceiving the difficulty woman face when entering a man's sport. When woman are better than men physically at something, men often try to excuse their success (they were lucky, they didn't do x or y- what a true man would do). The wome
This is a story about the most dangerous mountain in the world. The distinction does not apply to the tallest mountain in the world, Everest. It applies to the second tallest mountain K2. More people have died on K2 than Everest. Jennifer Jordan has written a book about the first five women to have climbed K2. Spoiler alert. Most of them have died.
I felt like the writing was ok, not the best. But it is obvious the author feels very strongly about her subject matter. Nothing will dispute the she
Dec 23, 2014 Valia rated it liked it
Shelves: biographical
Fascinating stories joined into a single narrative by their topic, that of many ways of death in high-altitude alpinism. Those who stay alive usually have to content themselves with mutilation and good old suffering.

Doug Mitchell
Really interesting biography of five climbers by a gifted writer. Became unfortunately out-of-date quickly with the rapid addition of nearly a dozen new summiteers.
Matthew Sedlak
Mar 18, 2017 Matthew Sedlak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mountaineering
Really well written and provides an excellent glimpse into the lives of the first five women to summit K2, the Savage Summit. This was difficult to research, since all the women were dead by the time the book was written and and so the resulting story is greatly appreciated.
Mar 05, 2012 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs-bio
What a sensational title. It actually turned me off a bit-- I didn’t know if I wanted to read it or just send it back to the library; I wasn’t too excited. Until I read the introduction. Jennifer Jordan says that the wheels of this book started turning when she read Into Thin Air, and noticed that (in her opinion) Krakauer sorta singles out and demonizes one of the women on the trip, even though there were men who made worse mistakes. That got Jordan thinking about how climber women are treated ...more
Oct 15, 2008 Mazola1 rated it really liked it
Savage Summit is the story of the first 5 women to summit K2, all of whom are now dead. Three died on the descent, and two in later climbing accidents.

As the book was being written, Edurne Pasaban, the sixth woman to summit K2, returned safely. Happily, she is still alive and climbing, seeking to summit all 14 of the world's 8000 meter mountains without supplemental oxygen. On October 6, 2008, she climbed Manaslu, the world's fifth highest mountain. In 2006, Nives Meroi, an Italian woman, also
Feb 03, 2017 Tiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
I liked the writing style of this book slightly less than Into Thin Air, which is why I'm giving this 4 stars instead of 5. That may not be fair though as this book is ultimately five mini biographies, while Into Thin Air is one personal narrative of a particular disastrous incident. I think Jordan still did an amazing job of telling the stories of these five women. I was struck by the rampant sexism that they faced as female mountain climbers, though it probably shouldn't have been surprising a ...more
Dec 28, 2015 Paula rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I eat up stories about people who climb these monster mountains. This one is not one of the best I've read. It isn't written very well. The way the story lines are arranged and her style of writing can be confusing and disjointed- add the feminist whining and only the subject matter got her the "it was okay"

Her personal obsession with these women is absolute. One constant thread is that any time anyone had anything but praise she hollers gender bias and misogyny of the vilest kind. Its a bit ove
Oct 23, 2007 Kate rated it it was amazing
I got morbidly interested in climbing disasters after staying home sick one day and feverishly watching several National Geographic Channel programs in a row. The first one was a documentary revolving around the same theme as this book (actually, I think it was made by the author of this book). With that, my interest in K2, and especially the women who'd climbed it, was piqued.
This book is a really honest and engrossing look at the first 5 women to summit K2, the second tallest mountain in the w
Jul 28, 2008 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I feel like I was given a glimpse of a sub-culture I'll probably never encounter. How many of us know a mountain climber? Have a friend who just climbed Everest? Yeah, me neither. Jordan lets us into the world of climbing in regards to the first 5 women to summit K2, the worlds second tallest mountain.

These women had a very difficult time being taken seriously by their male peers. The Climbing world doesn't like women climbers and tends to see them as distractions and liabilities. Though these
Apr 10, 2016 Bridget rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I'm giving this five stars because I think it's a fantastic idea for a book and often executed at the five-star level. But not always - there were a few sloppy areas, and I wasn't always happy with the way the author talked about the conflicts between female climbers and the traditional Pakistani culture they experienced while preparing to climb K2. Sometimes it felt like the Pakistanis were being reduced to caricatures. Which might be fair - goodness knows these women themselves have been reduc ...more
I went thru a period of mountain-climbing literature after reading Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster which probably inspired a slew of other non-climbing readers. K2 is actually a more technically challenging mountain than Everest and far fewer people have climbed it. Those who do face a 1 in 7 chance that they will die on the descent. I enjoyed reading about these five women and what drove them to love climbing and eventually die for that love. There was some interes ...more
Jun 09, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
I came across Jennifer Jordan's Savage Summit after reading Graham Bowley's No Way Down: life and death on K2, about the 2008 climbing tragedy on K2 when 11 climbers died on their descent from the summit of the second tallest mountain on earth. I was interested in reading her story of the first 5 women who had reached the summit (at time of publishing in 2004) of what is considered the world's most dangerous peak and Jordan's book is a riveting account of these driven women who faced not only th ...more
Nov 23, 2008 Jody rated it liked it
I'm trying to be good and read my books 1 at a time, but I just had to read the intro and acknowledgement pages. Ever since I read Ed Viestus's book "No Easy Way to the Top" (I think that's the title). I've had a facination with the people who aren't satisfied with a normal life like the rest of us.

No, they have to do things like go climbing the tallest mountains in the world - often ill equiped either physically or emotionally. If the rest of the book flows like the parts I read, it will be a
Nov 07, 2013 Nigel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a lover of non-fiction books on the great outdoors and climbing biographies and autobiographies in particular. The premise here is "why are the vast majority of mountaineering books about men and frequently by men?" The author sets out to look at 5 iconic female mountaineers through the lens of their lives and particularly their ascents of K2.

I found the book well written and very interesting. Bear in mind that the explicit aim of the book is to look at issues that female mountaineers have
Mar 17, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"For most of the modern age "woman climber" has been an oxymoron. Women were almost without exception relegated to the role of wife, widow, prostitute, royalty or slave. But sometime during the late nineteenth century, when the first woman cinched a rope around her waist and lashed her boots into bear claw-shaped steel crampons to climb up ice walls and steep snow slopes, war was declared on the status quo. Boldest of the "warriors" were the first five women who climbed K2, one of the most remot ...more
There is a lot to like about this book, and I appreciated its effort to tell the tale of these five women, to give them each a mini-biography as well as the requisite climbing porn of what happens on the mountain. Unfortunately, I found much of the writing overwrought, particularly when it came to imagined dialogue and thoughts; Jordan is a journalist, not a fiction writer and it shows in the insipid invented dialogue. I also found the pacing to be very hit and miss, which caused me more than a ...more
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