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High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed

3.69  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,079 Ratings  ·  256 Reviews
High Crimes is journalist Michael Kodas's gripping account of life on top of the world--where man is every bit as deadly as Mother Nature. In the years following the publication of Into Thin Air, much has changed on Mount Everest. Among all the books documenting the glorious adventures in mountains around the world, none details how the recent infusion of wealthy climbers ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published February 5th 2008 by Hyperion (first published January 1st 2008)
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Amar Pai
This guy tries a little too hard to expose the "seedy underbelly" of the Everest scene. In this book he recounts the drama behind both his own disastrous failed attempt to summit, and the drama of some others who ended up dead due to bad sherpa'ing, stolen equipment, etc. etc. Problem is he's an unreliable narrator; you never know if the people he's badmouthing are actually that bad, or if he's just a whiny useless sad sack. Little bit of A, little bit of B.

Nevertheless I did get sucked into th
May 15, 2008 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: armchair adventurers; Everest/mountaineering watchers; lovers of an engrossing, fast reads
Recommended to Lori by: NPR interview with author
A real page turner! Crime, selfishness, natural disasters, death, frostbite, summit fever...

I have two criticisms of this book that prevent me from giving it five stars. The first is its structure--Kodas chronicles two Everest summit attempts that take place in the same season but on different routes: his own Connecticut Everest expedition and the summit bid of Dr. Nils Antezana, an older climber. Chapters go back and forth between the two accounts--and not chronologically--with sidetracks into
Mar 02, 2010 Donald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
Having read most any book I can find on mountaineering and Everest in particular, this one stands out. Like many, I read Krakauer's "Into Thin Air", which is a must read and starting place for anyone interested in Everest. Most other books on Everest are either not as well written or not as interesting. Kodas and Krakauer are both journalists first and mountaineers second, which in the end (I believe) produces an superior book.

Aside from being very well written, Kodas tells a climbing story that
Janette Fleming
Feb 07, 2014 Janette Fleming rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In 2004, journalist Michael Kodas joined local mountain climbers from home on an expedition to Mount Everest. He anticipated an exhilarating and arduous adventure among a group of like-minded idealists that he could report to his readers back in Connecticut. But on the Himalayan mountain, he discovered thieves, prostitutes, con men, and blackmailers. There were people who would do anything for a quick buck, or a guarantee of reaching the top. And some of them were on his own team.

Thieves stole
High Crimes reads a bit like a failed attempt to climb Mount Everest. And indeed, that is what much of the book is about, various failed attempts to conquer the mountain, some merely discouraging and disappointing, others misbegotten and tragic. At times the book is compelling and absorbing, but at other times it gets tedious and boring. It covers a lot of the same ground over and over, seeming to go up and down, and then back up and down again. Some parts make quick and compelling reading while ...more
Feb 14, 2015 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I started climbing I also started reading books about climbs and quickly noticed that the authors ALWAYS found villain's to castigate.

The author's behavior was always noble, generous, and beyond reproach.
But those other people!!!

This book is no different, the author thinks highly of himself,
but by his own admission he wouldn't let his team mates send even a single email through his internet connection.
Is that stingy, petty, or mean?

The structure of the book is horrible, the author tell
Mar 31, 2011 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Kodas, who makes his living as a reporter and photojournalist with The Hartford Courant, focuses this book on his experience attempting to climb Mount Everest in 2004 as part of the Connecticut Everest Expedition, which included his wife and fellow journalist Carolyn Moreau, and Bolivian-born physician Nils Antezana, who successfully reached the summit of Everest but was later abandoned by his "guide," Argentinean Gustavo Lisi, and Sherpa's and perished on the mountain and occurred at th ...more
An in depth look at the varous issues surronding Everest. Professional reviewers have liken it to a sequel to Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster. In many ways it is. Kodas is a little more damning than Nick Heil, but he does a very good job of fairness. It should be read with Heil's Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season.
Andy Miller
Nov 25, 2015 Andy Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This nonfiction book tells of the other side of the world of climbing Mt Everest. While most stories about Everest focus on the heroism, the mountaineering ethic, the camaraderie of those who climb Everest. "High Crimes" written by a reporter who is also a mountaineer, shows a different side. Too many climbers do not have the skills or conditioning for a successful climb or have the money for a fully supported guide service. But they persist anyway, often hiring sketchy guides for minimal amount ...more
Jun 05, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I found the story in this book fascinating, and I also enjoyed that the writer is from my hometown, Hartford, CT. However, I agree with other reviewers that the structure of the book - including interweaving timelines, multiple story threads and a vast number of characters - is so confusing as to be downright baffling. Luckily, reviews warned me about this limitation early on, and I was able accept it and enjoy the story despite not being exactly sure of the details. The facts are compelling on ...more
4.5 stars

Journalist Michael Kodas takes a look at how busy Everest is and the issues that have happened due to its popularity. Primarily, he is looking at the fraud and theft that happens there (plus more). The consequences of fraud and theft at Everest, though, versus anywhere else, can turn deadly.

Kodas climbed Everest in 2004 with a neighbour, George, their wives, and a few other people. Things turned sour very quickly. So, he describes his own experiences with that group, as well as recount
It was really hard to decide whether I liked Michael Kodas' "High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed" or not. Ultimately, I found the book's problems detracted from my enjoyment of it.

On the good side, I found Kodas' expedition stories to be interesting and chock-full of good tidbits. The death of Nils Antezana seems particularly tragic and a good illustration of what summit fever can bring.

That said, I found the transitions between stories to be really jarring... I really disliked
Feb 03, 2009 Eric_W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-affairs
Mt. Everest has become a vast garbage dump. Persons of all persuasions, limitations (be the first without oxygen), handicaps (be the first asthmatic), ages (be the first over 70), and genders (the first transsexual – just kidding, at least so far) – if they have the funds – can pay an outfitter to get them to the summit. Some outfitters are better – and more reliable and honest – than others. Some steal supplies, others try to make it on the cheap. Base camps are now filled with prostitutes and ...more
I didn't love this as much as Into Thin Air. First of all, the narrative kept jumping around, which is fine in a book about just a few characters, but there were SO many different climbers that I kept getting mixed up.

And secondly, it got depressing. How many people have to have horrible frozen deaths on Everest before people get sensible?
May 30, 2016 renee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apart from some redundant passages, a very insightful account into an expedition to the highest point in the world. Small world yet as the author is from my old hometown!
Chris Jaffe
The material was interesting - but the book itself was annoying. In particular, this sucker was poorly structured.

There are two main stories here: 1) the fatal expedition of Nils Antezana, where his guide and Sherpas abandoned him to his fate, and 2) the author's expedition (which occurred at the same time as Nils - just on the other side of Everest) where the guide was a dangerous and indifferent jackass.

You go back and forth from one to the other - with plenty of other stories thrown in as w
Amelia Chameleon
May 27, 2014 Amelia Chameleon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has a lot of really great info that I think most "armchair mountaineers" don't think about, namely that greed is everywhere. And especially in a sport where there is little or no oversight, the opportunities for fraud are endless. Specifically in regard to Everest, Kodas talks about faulty oxygen containers, inexperienced guides, and demanding Sherpas which are critical for everyone to know. This book definitely has a check-list of what you want/need when mountaineering at high elevati ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Selene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I am always a sucker for Mt Everest books, movies and tv shows. I never want to go there. Never. But I can't help but be fascinated by the horrible, terrible struggle that it is. Everyone's accounts of the suffering you experience from base camp on up is the same: illnesses that won't go away, headaches, vomiting or lack of appetite, inability to sleep, freezing temperatures (of course), and the constant risk of death from any of those sources plus a few others. But the climbers get it in their ...more
Feb 17, 2014 William rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
interesting, shocking at times but choppy writing takes away from the story the author is trying to tell. I picked up High Crimes before a trip my son and I took to Nepal as background reading on the increasing commercial culture surrounding Mt Everest climbing/guiding. Kodas is a reporter for the Hartford Courant, and nearly half of the book relates a nearly disastrous experience he and his wife had on the 2004 Connecticut Everest Expedition. Team infighting, extremely poor leadership and greed ...more
Katherine Coble
I suspect everyone knows someone who blames absolutely every loss or failure in their life upon anyone and everyone else. Ballgames are lost because of shoddy teammates or biased referees. Packages are always lost in the mail, jobs are always for bad employers who undervalue the special snowflake. And apparently one can't summit Everest because the expedition leader is a mercurial charlatan, or so goes Michael Kodas' telling of events.

The premise of this book is intriguing and it starts off wel
Feb 22, 2014 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading in tandem with Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, the difference in the level of commercialism and volume of foot traffic from 1996 (Into Thin Air) and Kodas' attempts (2004 and 2006) is fascinating and frankly depressing - an excellent gift for a loved one who is interested in climbing Everest and you really, really want to discourage them ("Honey, let's just stick to Old Rag in the BlueRidge"). Kodas' focus is on the seedy, unregulated, environmentally and morally bankrupt side of com ...more
Lorna Rose-hahn
Mar 17, 2014 Lorna Rose-hahn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good writing and great investigative journalism. Eye-opening how modern technology, social pressures, and greed affect a once-pristine and sacred environment like Everest.
Aug 03, 2016 Raven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rather the opposite of the more common triumphal feel-good read that is the staple of books about mountaineering, and doesn't quite fit in to the other common trope of the genre, books about that terrible tragedy that happened to those other people and what should have been done differently to prevent it. Instead, "High Crimes" is basically about Everest and human evil. Some of it's financial, people labeling refilled oxygen bottles as original ones for sale and then shrugging and going "huh, fu ...more
John Branney
This book was a slogger (tough to slog through). There were at least two separate stories and plots going on at the beginning of the book with numerous characters making it difficult to keep everything straight. Towards the end of the book, the different stories and plots were much better integrated.

What did I get from this book? I believe the main point that I got out of this book is that Everest is no longer a worthy achievement. There is so much corruption and crime taking place behind the s
Feb 25, 2014 Rebekkila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-on-cd
I learned some interesting things about climbing Mount Everest. Apparently you only have to summit the mountain once to call yourself a guide, you don't have to be trained in rescue, Medical emergencies, or have avalanche training. Some one could carry you to the top once and you can be a guide. This probably goes a long way in explaining why there are so many deaths.
He discusses the theft on the mountain, many people have their camps raided while they are out and their equipment, survival gear
May 09, 2013 Misha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 20, 2016 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listened to the audiobook narrated by Holder Graham and was completely absorbed. Since Kodas participated in a (failed) summit attempt himself, his descriptions of the brutal weather conditions and competitive nature of fellow climbers are detailed and compelling. I can't imagine wanting to climb Everest now; the summit-at-all-costs attitude that permeates the camps sounds like the perfect recipe for rampant risk-taking and death, as Nils Atezana unfortunately discovered. Even so, it's thrilling ...more
Apr 21, 2015 readinger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
7 words...What the Hell is wrong with people?

Thinking of launching a climbing expedition to Everest? Read this first or reconsider. Possibly both.

Imagine paying thousands upon thousands of dollars on a lifelong dream of standing atop the earth's highest point. Only to have your tents, food, radios & equipment stolen. Not by complete strangers either. Often by the very people you hired to get you to the summit safe. Bribery, theft, falsified credentials...

Maybe it's just me but I couldn't li
Dec 03, 2014 Roger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I was a sophomore in high school when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay summited Everest. Back then, I thought I would like to attempt to summit Everest some day. Since then, I've done some modest summer and winter mountaineering in the lower 48. It gave me an appreciation of what mountaineering is all about. High Crimes highlights the fact that the ac4tivity on Everest is no longer mountaineering in the truest sense of the word. The book highlights the sad state of affairs that Everest clim ...more
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“And when a boldly independent but woefully underequipped climber like David Sharp gets into trouble high on the mountain, everyone within range of helping will be faced with the same wrenching dilemma: give up on the dream they have spent thousands of dollars and months of suffering to achieve, to save someone who came underprepared—or leave him to his fate in order to stay focused on their own ambitions.” 0 likes
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