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Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  3,002 Ratings  ·  225 Reviews
The inside story of the deadly 2006 climbing season on Everest

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, bu
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published January 1st 2008)
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Into Thin Air by Jon KrakauerThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonDark Summit by Nick HeilK2 by Ed Viesturs
Worshipping Mountains
4th out of 90 books — 41 voters
Into Thin Air by Jon KrakauerKilimanjaro and Beyond by Barry FinlayThe Climb by Anatoli BoukreevK2 by Ed ViestursTouching the Void by Joe Simpson
Climbing and Mountaineering
15th out of 119 books — 94 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 24, 2009 Eric_W rated it it was amazing
Well, finally getting around to making a few notes about this book which I read at the same time as a bunch of other Everest-summiting books. All are pretty good, and I'm about to order some others I ran across, including K2, The Savage Mountain,K2 Triumph and Tragedy, The Last Step The American Ascent of K2, and The Endless Knot K2, Mountain of Dreams and Destiny: i.e., it's time to switch mountains.

The literature of mountaineering has evolved. It used to be they were stories of teamwork and a
Dec 20, 2013 Christopher rated it really liked it
What I've learned: mountain climbers are crazy. Really crazy. Everest used to be my Everest. In my youth, I'd think, "someday I'll conquer that, the nearly unconquerable". The thought of climbing an icy mountain to the highest point on Earth was exhilarating to me, as was the idea of pushing myself to my physical limits, to possibly come back with fewer fingers. But I've no ambition or desire for that anymore. Not after reading this book.

And the thing is, climbing Everest isn't even that remarka
Jun 20, 2008 Mazola1 rated it really liked it
Mount Everest is a cold and inhospitable place. After what happened on the mountain in 2006, a lot of people were saying the same thing about the hearts of many of those who climb Mount Everest. Ten people died on Mount Everest that year, but no death provoked more controversy and outrage than that of David Sharp. Sharp is remembered in the public consciousness as the young British climber who "lay dying near the top of Mount Everest while forty other climbers walked past him on their way to the ...more
Karen Terrell
Dec 02, 2012 Karen Terrell rated it it was amazing
I love Nick Heil’s writing. The details, perspective, and voice he brings to *Dark Summit* - a reflection on Everest’s controversial 2006 climbing season – are thought-provoking and compelling. I could not put this book down (and I don’t mean this figuratively – I literally had to finish this book before I could go to sleep).

Heil’s word choice is exquisite. When comparing the mountaineering of earlier years with modern climbing, he describes “the tweedy gentlemen climbers of yesteryear” with to
May 21, 2012 Mamma rated it liked it
I wish I could add a half-star. The book was good. Riveting, full of fascinating stuff. But it was confusing. The layout for a book like this is always going to be tricky, but there's way too much going back and forth in time. There was too much information given about the other hikers on the various expeditions, and most of them didn't have a real role in the story. I found myself relying on a chart in the beginning showing who belonged with what expedition company, and sometimes I had to use t ...more
Sep 16, 2016 LibraryCin rated it really liked it
In 2006, Mount Everest saw it's deadliest season since 1996 (the year Jon Krakauer wrote about in Into Thin Air). But this time around, weather was not the cause. One man died after being passed by numerous climbers while he was still alive; another was left behind when they thought he was a lost cause (he was “left for dead”, similar to Beck Weathers in 1996); miraculously, he lived.

Another really good mountaineering book. The beginning, while looking back at history and – at the same time – i
Chad Sayban
May 11, 2015 Chad Sayban rated it really liked it
More reviews at The Story Within The Story

British climber David Sharp lays along a ridge near the top of the highest point in the world. He is dying, but he isn't dead...yet. Still, forty other climbers walk past him on their way to the summit and not one of the stops to help. A week later, veteran climber Lincoln Hall is also left for dead in the same spot. His death is reported around the world. However, the next day he is found still alive and heroically brought down off Everest. He survives.
Feb 12, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it
Nick Heil writes well about this controversial subject. The subject is how climbers are often 'left' to die high up on Everest and others will walk by them. After having read a few of these kind of books being a very keen armchair mountaineer it is a familiar pattern of driven people taking huge risks and the inevitable consequences.

The stories can still be heart wrenchingly sad though.

I think that if you haven't been up that high and experienced the mental and physical exhaustion and stress the
Books about high-elevation mountaineering are about death. Either the suffering of or escape from. Sure, there is a lot about courage, preparation, luck, cruel mother nature, and such, but if there is not death, then it seems few climbers will write about it, especially if there is not some controversy to throw in. And Everest has provided a lot of death and controversy, as well as mystery, to be sure. Herewith another account of climbing gone astray, but in this instance there is a mix of mirac ...more
Aug 26, 2011 Anne-Marie rated it really liked it
I get drawn into mountaineering books at certain times and this was another one of those phases. When I heard of the Englishman was passed by 40 climbers on Everest I was appalled. How could so many people be so inhumane? Recently I found this book and thought, this might explain how this could happen. In reading it I felt the author gave an objective as possible account of the circumstances surrounding this awful tragedy and I did feel I understood how this man was left to die by 40 people.

I st
Jun 19, 2012 Max rated it really liked it
Shelves: climbing
I was surprised by this one. I picked it up from the library to get some extra contextual information on the events of 2006 (since the Discovery channel TV show was so sadly dumbed down), and I ended it up liking it as much as any mountaineering book I've read. Heil gives some great historical and cultural context that has been missing from lots of other accounts of climbing the world's highest peak, and has an admirable commitment to fairness (best displayed in his afterword) that much writing ...more
Mar 15, 2012 Lil rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Colin Birge
Jul 25, 2011 Colin Birge rated it liked it
A follow-up of sorts to Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer's classic account of the deadly 1996 climbing season on Mount Everest. Nick Heil covers the equally deadly 2006 season, especially the controversial death of David Sharp. Over 40 climbers climbed past Sharp as he lay dying near the summit after spending a night alone on the mountain. Heil argues that it was understandable: at so high an altitude, rescue was virtually impossible, and Sharp had chosen to climb with no partners and no support.

As e
Dec 03, 2014 Roger rated it liked it
Shelves: mountaineering
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 06, 2010 L rated it liked it
Heil does not, and cannot, answer the question of where to draw the line of climbers' and guides' responsibility to help other climbers and/or climbers not under their corporate wing. It isn't clear whether David Sharp could have been saved, though it does seem clear that climbers passed him, saw the shape he was in, and kept going, their eagerness to summit outweighing their humanity. The explanations/rationalizations/excuses are there. For the most part, these folks are cold, both literally an ...more
Sam Page
Dec 04, 2009 Sam Page rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Himalayan climbing disasters
In spring 1996, over ten climbers died in a storm while climbing Mt. Everest, including the accomplished leaders of two commercial expeditions, Rob Hall and Scott Fischer. The story of that terrible season was told, not without controversy, by Jon Krakauer in his best-selling book Into Thin Air. In spring 2006, over ten climbers again died climbing Mt. Everest, but this time in relatively fine weather. Nick Heil explains what went wrong in his book Dark Summit: The True Story of Mt. Everest's Mo ...more
Nicholas Morris
Jun 12, 2014 Nicholas Morris rated it it was amazing
This book tells of the deadliest climbing season since the infamous season of 1996. Nick Heil describes the difficult trek up the infamous Mt. Everest which stands at an astonishing 29,029 ft. The treacherous climb consists of dizzying altitudes, crevices that can be up to hundreds of feet wide, and the ever present threat of avalanches. The scary situations that the climbers face on their way up the mountain made me realize that climbing a mountain that size is completely different than I thoug ...more
May 22, 2015 Ob-jonny rated it it was amazing
This is a great book about climbing and it reminds me of Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. It is an intense story like Into Thin Air but of a different season and a different group of people. This book focuses on the phenomenon of climbers being left behind or walked past by people not checking to see if they're okay. It seems so horrific on the surface but once you really dig into the story you realize how complicated the situation is. A casual observer would consider those people walking by to be ...more
Ell Eastwood
"The more I learned about the particulars surrounding Sharp's death, the less controversial it seemed to be."

This is the best summary I can find of this book, something that I very much agree with after reading. Before I had only briefly read about his death on Wikipedia which sort of just summed it up with "forty people walked by as he lay dying", and that ... might be true but it's also very much a simplification. There were people there trying to help, but it was too late, and it's not a plac
Engrossing detail account of the 2006 season on Everest. You know the season where the media focused on the people who died after others climbed by?

Heil does an excellent job of showing the reader what extactly the sitution was and raises questions of the rights and wrongs of the choices made. While he is sympathic to the climbers, he is not awed and does call into question stories that do not seem right.
Janette Fleming
Mar 05, 2013 Janette Fleming rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everest - the highest mountain in the world and the ultimate climbing challenge. In 2006, 11 people died attempting to reach the summit, the most fatalities since 1996. But unlike 1996, 2006 saw no surprise blizzard, only the constant dangers posed by unstable ice, merciless cold, thin air - and human nature.
Nick Heil tells the shocking true stories of David Sharp, a young British solo climber, who was passed by 40 mountaineers as he lay dying on the slopes of the mountain, and Lincoln Hall wh
Heidi Willis
Jul 27, 2012 Heidi Willis rated it really liked it
Shelves: mfa
It's hard for me to be unbiased about a book on Everest. It is the one subject I devour without a critical eye. I've read a huge amount of books on the subject, and though some books are better written than others, they all bring a unique perspective that's hard to critique.

This book might stand on the 2006 climbing controversy, but in doing so, it spends a considerable amount of pages up front delving into the history of both the mountain and the biography of some of the significant people in t
Sharon Watkins
Apr 25, 2012 Sharon Watkins rated it it was amazing
Why people keep going to Everest to face, at best, unimaginable discomfort and danger, and at worst, frostbite and attendant amputations, cerebral and pulmonary edema, and death, is a mystery to me. But as a reader, I am glad they do, because it means that books like this get written. Nick Heil does for the disastrous 2006 season on Everest what Jon Krakauer did for the 1996 season: he lays out the elements of a catastrophe in a concise, compelling story.

2006 was the year that some 40 climbers,
Barbara Deer
Aug 30, 2012 Barbara Deer rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 19, 2012 Don rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, and thought it to be a good summary of the issues & controversies of the 2006 Everest expeditions. The author does a good job of helping you to understand the challenges that climbers face, and the growing problem that commercialization is creating -- that is, drawing people who have the money to attend an expedition but not the training, experience and mindset of what is needed to conquer Everest. It seems that Everest is drawing unqualified people for the purpose of achi ...more
Jerry Murphy
May 18, 2013 Jerry Murphy rated it really liked it
I have read numerous books on mountaineering, and have a fascination in particular with Everest. Any works I have consumed in the past have always been written from the point of view of individuals overcoming the hardships and obstacles of the route to the top which, inevitably culminates with them succeeding and then living to tell the tale. The more I read, the more I believe, maybe, just maybe, I would be able to do it.

Dark Summit gives considerable weight to the other side of the argument. I
Holly Rusak
Jul 02, 2012 Holly Rusak rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, everest
I was torn between three and four stars. I could barely put the book down - figuratively, as I was reading on my Kindle. But I think reading electronically may have worked against me. Much like Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air," this book juggle numerous characters. I often got confused on the cast. Also the interweaving of historical references both added to the context as well as the confusion. I think i would have followed along better if I could have more easily flipped back between chapter hea ...more
Mar 02, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
I am always looking for a GREAT book about Everest. This book almost hit the mark...almost. Nick Heil recounts stories from several people who were on the mountain in 2006 when 11 people died causing a media whirlwind that equaled the frenzy after the 1996 tradegy. The book outlines the Discovery Channel series that was being shot during this same time. I was wildly interested in the Discovery Channel show and was surprised by the additional drama unfolding on the mountain that the show complete ...more
May 24, 2013 Marsha rated it liked it
DARK SUMMIT dealt with the tragic and controversial 2006 season of climbing on Everest's North face. I admit to being fascinated with Everest - and mountain climbing in general. I watched the Discovery Channel's documentary of this 2006 climb (and the 2007 as well)so I was familiar with the events and remembered a lot of the climbers' names. Nick Heil also goes into a little bit of the history of Everest and climbing on the North face - a less populated and, technically, more challenging climb t ...more
Mandy Spejcher
Jun 03, 2012 Mandy Spejcher rated it it was amazing
This was really interesting for me and probably anyone else into armchair mountaineering. I watched the Everest show that was filmed during the 2006 season, and it was really fascinating to read more about what happened and the things that went on that I wasn't able to see. There was so much more drama than I realized! I was worried the author would take the side of the general media and public about the events that happened during this season, but I was happy to see that he seemed unbiased and ...more
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“The two climbers looked at each other, a glance that bored all the way down to Medvetz's DNA - not desperate or pleading or frightened but resolved, almost at peace. Here were two men, united in their obsessive enterprise, their trajectories intersecting for just an instant, but an instant that contained some fundamental understanding: the long journey full of failures and setbacks, injuries and disfigurement and pain, propelled by a commitment beyond reason. Here were two men in this inhospitable place, the wind raking across the ridge, the shadows lengthening - one departing his life, the other walking back into it.
"God bless you," Medvetz murmured. "Good-bye."
And then he faced down the mountain and resumed lumbering along the route, toward Brice and Brett Merrell and Mogens Jensen and all the others waiting for him in the world below.”
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