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Minus 148 Degrees

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,195 ratings  ·  95 reviews
In 1967, eight men attempted North America's highest summit: Mount McKinley (now known as Denali) had been climbed before but never in winter. Plagued by doubts and cold, group tension and a crevasse tragedy, the expedition tackled McKinley in minimal hours of daylight and fierce storms. They were trapped at three different camps above 14,000 feet during a six-day blizzard ...more
Paperback, 254 pages
Published December 1st 1999 by Mountaineers Books (first published 1969)
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 ·  1,195 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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May 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is about the deadly attempt to do the first winter ascent of Denali in 1967 and the life and death struggle which came as a deadly storm hit the mountain and trapped the men at different places across the mountain. The story is mainly told by expedition photographer Art, who is brutally honest about every aspect of the climb, and also from diary extracts written by other climbers in the group. It starts with a couple of near misses when members of the team failed to adhere to accepted ...more
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am not a climber, nor a mountaineer, and I have absolutely no desire to take up either sport, yet I couldn't put this book down. Art Davidson does a phenomenal job of taking a reader to Denali in the middle of the winter while a group of young climbers attempt to summit. I thought Art did a fantastic job of bringing the reader to the mountain and giving us a glimpse into what it means to find yourself trapped 17,000 ft high, with no means of rescue. You can't help but fall in love with these y ...more
May 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mountaineering
A riveting mountaineering epic that doubles as one of the most incredible survival stories of all times, Minus 148 has remained a classic since its original publication, so the only question I have is: how come I didn't read this earlier? As a climber, I am familiar with the challenges when we set our sights on various summits, but even fifty years later the proposition of taking on Denali, one of the coldest mountains on the planet, in winter remains close to the realm of lunacy. The fact that ...more
May 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Good, but only average for the genre. The climbers themselves seem a bit lukewarm about the whole thing—not surprising given the grim difficulties and disasters they face. They reach the summit in the dark, where they can't see anything except detritus from other climbers. What's the point?

> Sheldon's own on-the-spot description of the storm ran something like: "Yea, I was hucklebuck'n on up there to take a look at ma boys, when I look out the window … Whoa … I seen this ridge just standin' sti
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Tales of extreme adventure never lose their appeal for me! I am especially drawn to stories of epic mountain ascents under horrible conditions, possibly because they are often steeped in descriptions of how each of the excursion team's personalities act, think, and react to each other and the situations in which they find themselves. This story is of the first winter ascent of Denali/Mt. McKinley in Alaska. As often is the case when climbing over glaciers, ice and snow to altitudes most of us wo ...more
May 02, 2020 added it
Maintaining my “one mountaineering memoir a year” pace. This is such a raw account that it will stay with you. The author is almost courageously honest about the psychology, group dynamics and frequent errors of an expedition made by “amateurs” in the true sense. I don’t know where the world of professional/sponsored mountaineering was in 1967 (I assume nascent and a fraction of its current size), but the planning and execution of this objective occurs in a different universe. Almost every decis ...more
Paul Kinzer
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a riveting account of the winter ascent of Denali, and especially enjoyable after having just visited, albeit on a warm sunny day from the park road. :) Many of the decisions, though, seemed questionable in light of their experience - even during the planning stages, and before they reached high attitudes. The author deserves credit for the unvarnished truth of the expedition.

Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Terrific read!
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a guide I have participated in 21 Denali Expeditions and for some reason had never read this book. I found it at a library sale for a buck and started it on vacation. It was fantastic. Climbing Denali via the West Buttress has become a much more routine activity than it was in 1969 and it is interesting to read about something as wild as a winter ascent taking place relatively early in the popularity of the climb. These guys were true hard men. Looking back from the vantage of the future I fo ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: notinbyulib
Engaging and a brilliant piece of writing. "Why do you climb? What did you get from the winter expedition? We solved none of life's problems, but I believe all of us returned with a new awareness of some of its realities." I think these sentences are true for all the mountaineering tales.

"I can show you morning
On a thousand hills
And kiss you and give you seven daffodils
I do not have a fortune
To buy you pretty things
But I can weave you moonbeams
For necklaces and rings. "
This is the verse Gregg w
Apr 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers who liked Into Thin Air
Shelves: biography-memoir
It's bad enough to want to get really cold in the summer, but to do it in the winter buggars rational thought. These idiots decided to climb Mt. McKinley in the dead of winter.

Art Davidson was disappointed as a child when he learned that all the continents had been discovered. It's no wonder then that he just had to climb McKinley in winter. Many thought it was impossible. Temperatures hovered around -60 and winds often reached 160 mph. Indeed, in December there is only about 4 hours of sunligh
Karen A.
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First published in 1969 and included on National Geographic’s top 100 Greatest Adventure Books of all time, Minus 148 Degrees, by Art Davidson retells the compelling high stakes story of a group of men who made the first winter ascent on Mt. McKinley. Art and his friend, Dave Johnston, both accomplished climbers are looking for adventure and come up with an idea to lead the first team to summit Mt. McKinley in the winter. Most climbing peers of the time think they are crazy, rightfully so, even ...more
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: jan-apr-2013
A re-publication; an expedition sets out to climb Mt Mckinley (Denali) in Alaska in the winter. Only three of them "summit", then are caught in a storm, the waiting party of four separates after they think the other three surely are dead. In the end all are rescued, although the party lost one man in a crevasse early in the climb. This version contains information on what each of the party is doing now, and other winter climbs that have been attempted on the mountain
Curtis Jensen
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, non-fiction, history
Someone once told me, "if you're going to do dumb things, you'd better be tough." That kinda fits these guys.
I'm not sure climbing Denali in the winter counts as dumb, but it's close.

Viewpoints from the different climbers was good to have. The telling was good, but wish there were more details on the planning and logistics of the trip.
Sarah Taylor
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wow! This is the best non-fiction adventure book I have yet to read...I found myself anxious to get home from work in order to read more about this incredibly dangerous and heroic tale to climb Mt. McKinley in the dead of winter.
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
I loved that this book had a "where are they now" section for the anniversary edition. Davidson was smart to include multiple points of view for the telling of this incredible escapade.
David Readmont-Walker
Well written mountaineering-survival Robin. Real page turner. Would recommend.
Christy Keeler
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thomas Jr.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jean Dupenloup
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Art Davidson’s memoir is a canonic work in the genre of mountaineering literature.

He describes his and his companions’ efforts to become the first ever to summit Denali in the winter.

This isn’t your grandmother’s Alaskan climb. As brutal as Denali might be in the summer, it’s quite another thing in the winter.

Mr. Davidson’s tale of unimaginable temperatures, unspeakable grief, and ultimate triumph, is a classic account not to be missed by any self-respecting mountaineer or fan of mountaineering
Dick Whittington
Outstanding and well written true story of winter expedition to climb Mount Denali (highest in North America) and of being trapped near the summit for six days of hurricane force winds and white-out conditions with minimal gear, little food or water, no hope of rescue, no communication and not knowing if the storm will clear before they die and if it does whether they will have sufficient strength to save themselves.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An account of the first winter ascent of Denali written by one of its climbers, Art Davidson. I loved everything about this book. The characters are easy to fall in love with. The drama of the endeavor they set out on is hard to deny. And there's real magic in the writing style—literary and controlled most of the time, but raw and painfully honest at other times. If you like mountaineering or just adventure stories, this is a non-fiction book you may come to love dearly.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pure craziness! What would drive a group of individuals to attempt such a dangerous summit at the risk of dying in the process? I guess that's what mountaineering is for some, an un-explainable drive to reach the summit. We all climb for different reasons, theirs was just one of the most extremes I have read.
Zeh Fernando
Apr 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Great tale about a challenging climb that could be defined as somewhere between a comedy of errors and an heroic great. More so than other similar such tales of exploration adventure, this is so focused on the individuals' own personal feelings and thoughts, so introspective, so honest, that it really seems it apart from the rest.
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Winter Alaskan Adventure

The story of the first climbers to attempt to climb Mt McKinley in winter and while doing so facing the reality of survival in negative 50 degree temperatures and 150 mph winds.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A direct yet compelling tail of a group of mountaineers who chose to make, and eventually complete the first winter ascent of Mt. McKinley (now rightfully Denali). This book will keep any readers attention that enjoys mountain climbing, adventure, or Alaska.

Highly recommend this book.
Kate Dunn
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I do believe my love affair with armchair mountaineering is drawing to a close. This is a good one to go out on. Got that Alaskan earnestness and wholesome grief/triumph. Not quite Into Thin Air but it certainly lodges into yr heart.
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pretty entertaining. Honestly, the decision making seems very questionable, but it is easy to armchair quarterback these things. Hindsight is 20/20. But still, a pretty wild, impressive story of survival.
Paul Hanson
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alaska
Extreme adventure in an amazing setting. Once you start, you won't want to put this book down!
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