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The Last Man on the Mountain: The Death of an American Adventurer on K2

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  229 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In 1939 the Savage Mountain claimed its first victim. Born into vast wealth yet uneasy with a life of leisure, Dudley Wolfe, of Boston and Rockport, Maine, set out to become the first man to climb K2, the world’s second-highest mountain and, in the opinion of mountaineers, an even more formidable challenge than Mt. Everest. Although close to middle age and inexperienced at ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published August 16th 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 490)
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Mary Joy
Three stars.

There were actually 4 men who died on the mountain: 1 American and 3 Nepalese sherpas. So while Miss Jordan may talk about Wiessner's ethnocentrism, she should also point the finger at herself.

Regardless, this was an engaging read; perhaps a good counterpoint to other books that have painted Dudley Wolfe as a clumsy oaf when in fact he was every bit as capable, physically and mentally, as anyone else on the team. The fact that he went higher than other more capable members of his tea
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Der-shing
I enjoyed this book very much. Jordan did a great deal of research and it really shows... the only negative I had was about her portrayal of Dudley as some kind of exalted figure. I'd agree with her (based on her writing) that he wasn't simply a caricature of a millionaire, but I don't know if I'd go so far as to call him a hero either. He seemed more like a normal person with an adventurous spirit who met an unfortunate end thanks to a tragic choice of teammates and lack of communication.

I'd re
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Sean Hopkins
Interesting story about the tragic attempt by an American team to climb K2 in 1939. The death of Dudley Francis Wolfe, a middle aged millionaire, after he was abadoned at Camp VII at an elevation of over 25,000 feet was the subject of great controversy and all of the surviving members of the expedition had different version of the events that resulted in tragedy. This book reminds one of the importance team work in the world of climbing the world's highest mountains.
Liz Nutting
[Erratum: In this review, I state that K2 was first summited more than 20 years after the first full ascent of Everest in 1953. That is incorrect. K2 was first summited by an Italian mountaineering team on July 31, 1954, a little over a year after Hillary and Tenzing reached the top of Everest. The summit of K2 was not reached again, however, until 1977, by a Japanese expedition. The first American team to reach the summit did so in 1978.]

I've mentioned before that I have a fascination with book
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Michael
This is a sad and remarkable story. I'm fascinated by stories of mountaineering and the extreme danger of climbing the highest peaks, like K2. I certainly understand the desire to see the beauty of mountains but cannot at all understand risking my life to climb one.

There were so many reasons this expedition failed but none of them really belonged to Dudley Wolfe or the Sherpas who died trying to rescuer him. It is a compelling story of how not to run a climbing expedition, how not to let the lea
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Raven
It's not often you get to read a biography by a person who found the subject's body. While more than a little morbid, it does give the author particular insight into the life of her subject, early American mountaineer Dudley Wolfe. This highly sympathetic portrayal is an easy read, challenging much of the previous collected statements about the American 1939 K2 expedition and how things fell apart there. I was surprised at how much it had in common with stories of Himalayan expeditions gone sout ...more
Taylor
It tries hard, and I wanted to like it, but for a nonfiction book The Last Man on the Mountain is way too heavy on the conjecture. I wish this book had more footnoted evidence, in general. There's a lot of fluffy fake dialogue about Wolfe and Wolfe’s family's hypothetical feelings. Also, I would have preferred that the author had disclosed what she describes as a close friendship with Charlie Houston early in the book, rather than saving it for page 277.

As others have pointed out, there are some
...more
Erika
I'm a huge fan of Jennifer Jordan's mountaineering books. Her work is carefully written and she has the wonderful ability to make her books come alive in a way that puts the reader right there, in the frozen ice of formidable K2, known as the "Savage Mountain". Incredibly, the author came across the remains of the American climber Dudley Wolfe, the first man to lose his life on an ill fated expedition in 1939. Jordan researched the story and uncovered the tale of a summit attempt by a group of p ...more
Karen Thompson
What a tragedy! If this happened in today's media the group's leader and the decision to strip the lower camps would bring on a murder investigation, not a whitewashed inquiry.
Marlowe
This book, which tells the story of the 1939 attempt on K2 an resulted in the death of Dudley Wolfe along with three Sherpa sent up to Camp VII to rescue him, falls into two main segments: a biographical overview of the man and his family, and the attempt itself.

Both segments are interesting but the latter really comes into its own in making the reader feel the conditions and the hardship — it remained balanced in its views of the climbers, allowing flaws and monumental achievements create thre
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Deborah
Most mentions of Dudley Wolfe in other mountaineering books had left me with the impression that he was a rich buffoon whose unfortunate fate - left to die alone high on the mountain - was the result of his own incompetency. This account of the tragic 1939 expedition completely changed my point of view. The entire team was unprepared, ill-equipped, and it's a miracle only Wolfe and three of the Sherpas died.

I found myself drawn in from the very beginning, even though it's not a fast-paced tale,
...more
Mel
May 13, 2015 Mel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: non-fic
not a bad read. although i read the author's notes/preface, i am still a bit confused as to the exact events/actions of the attempted "rescue" etc. of course, no one will ever know either if it was never documented and the author made an educated guess.

all in all, an interesting read. i knew nothing of the 1939 K2 expedition or the name Dudley Wolfe. but from what gather, he was a pretty impressive chap to have accomplished all that he did. as for the rest of the team: shame on the rest of them.
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Helen
Tragic story of an ill-fated expedition to climb K2 in 1939. Dudley Wolfe was abandoned by members of the expedition and left to perish on K2 due to a perfect storm of bad decisions, blind ambition, inexperienced team members, inadequate finances, unkown health consequences of high altitude climbing and team personalitites that impeded the safety of the expedition. What the team did accomplish was extraordinary for the time and the technical skill of Fritz Wiessner was never in doubt.

What is alw
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Ken Mannion
May 09, 2013 Ken Mannion marked it as to-read
Shelves: travel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelsey
I originally intended to read about the Dyatlov Pass incident, but the library did not have it, and I picked up this book instead. It was definitely a good choice. I really admire Jordan's attention to detail and description, though some parts could have probably been left out and saved us a couple pages. All in all though, this was an addicting read (for me at least). Give it a try
Ohenrypacey
A well researched telling of the 1939 American expedition to K2. The tragedy that was to occur on the mountain, with the loss of Dudley Wolfe, an american playboy invited mostly to fund the climb, unfolds so transparently as the hubris of the team leader leads to mistake after mistake in the months, weeks, and days leading up to the final days on the savage mountain. Still, Wolfe comes off as an admirable figure, an old school adventurer of the highest order, who probably, if the team were stron ...more
George Farrants
Well balanced, exciting while remaining objective and telling the story clearly.
Beverly Hollandbeck
I have a fascination with reading about mountain climbing so I really enjoyed this.
Shawn
Sep 12, 2011 Shawn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone in my family
I like to read a nonfiction book about people dying trying to climb Mt. Everest about once a year, so I was overdue for Last Man on the Mountain. It wasn't even Mt. Everest, really, it was K2, and way back when, in 1939. Mountain climbing books like this are interesting every time, for me, and this one was particularly interesting for a number of reasons. History: way back in the 30s, who was climbing tall mountains? Rich people and sherpas. Also, this author is a woman which is different from m ...more
Ciara
son of a bitch. goodreads ate my review. bottom line: i prefer more contemporary mountaineering stories. (this one is a chronicle of exactly how it came to pass that dudley wolfe, one of the richest men in the united states at the time, was left alone to die in his tent high on the slopes of K2, the world's second tallest mountain, in the late 1930s.) also, if jennifer jordan loves dudley wolfe so much, maybe she should marry him.
lynn
After reading Jennifer Jordan's book about the women of K-2, I decide I had better read the one she wrote about one of the men who died climbing the savage mountain. She wrote this book after finding his remains at the base of the mountain while there for her prior book! Her story is well-told and researched. A sad tale about how important it is to put together a team that will gel no matter what circumstances arise.
Stephanie
A fascinating look at Dudley Wolfe and the 1939 K2 expedition. The book develops Dudley as a character, and gives some character development to the other team members, particularly the leader, Fritz Wiessner, leading to a non-fiction book that reads easily. The book is also an interesting look into mountaineering in the late 1930s when so much about altitude and the mountain itself was unknown.
Jules
I had a hard time getting through this book. I had to renew it which never happens with me. I almost quit. I found myself not caring what happened to this man who seemed so wrapped up in himself and though generous was quite selfish. Maybe I saw it from his wife's point of view. However, I endured and was grateful as I felt the ending was the most interesting part of the book.
Jeremy
Hard to turn down any story about the Himalayas! This was a good story. I get a bit nervous, though, when an author starts to conjecture about final thoughts or motives without anything that would substantiate the story--a la Krakauer. Still, though, this was a worthy read. It is amazing what these climbers endured before we understood high altitude climbing and human physiology.
Steven
Another story of my favorite Himalayan mountain K2, the author recounts the life of Dudley Wolfe, his beginnings and his tragic end at one of the higher camps at K2. Intersesting read, I thought the author did an admirable job pointing out how dysfunctional the climbing team was and how it played a major role in the tragedy which costed 4 lives.
Vicky
tragic story, but too gross for me. kind of sad how they lacked so much proper equipment and so little was known about mountaineering at the time. but i guess someone was bound to die, especially given the mismatched team members... too disgusting and too many questions left over, not my kind of ending.
Elisa
A fascinating true adventure up K2. Dudley Wolfe, the last man, died alone on the mountain left waiting for the return of his friends to rescue him. After years of finger pointing, and many excuses, no one took the blame for leaving him to die.
Candace Dempsey
I'm addicted to mountain climbing books. I'm so impressed with Jennifer's research and pluck in recreating this adventure tale. She makes us grieve for Dudley Wolfe and still love K2, the mountain that proved to be his nemesis. Bravo.
Shana
Sep 19, 2012 Shana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who love adventure stories
Very interesting account of the doomed 1939 expedition to K2. Much of the book focuses on Dudley Wolfe, who died during the expedition. Although this is a non fiction book, it reads like a novel. I couldn't put it down.
Brenda
I liked the style of writing in this book. It is non-fiction but supposes conversations and emotional state of the characters so that it is a better read rather than being limited to written evidence.
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