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

Dark Summit by Nick Heil
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Feb 27, 2012

really liked it

** spoiler alert ** Picked this up at 10 last night and didn't put it down until I was done. What I especially enjoy about reading about Everest is just how bloody uncomfortable it always makes me. Like several people say, morality is different on the mountain. And it is, but should it be? I'm tempted to be curmudgeonly with Sir Edmund and close the mountain to one expedition/year, with the entire focus on not losing anyone. At the same time, reading the stories of these people who are driven to get to the top, I know that's impossible. This book adds more characters to that list, both the ones who made it and the ones who didn't.

Although this one didn't have nearly the suspense of the books around the 1996 season, I think in a way it was more striking because this was not a bad season for climbing - it was cold but clear, they didn't have nearly the logjams they have on the south side, etc. - and yet it was still fucked. People die on Everest. Period.

IIRC, this is also the most informed book I've read about the operational aspects of Everest's expeditions. Whereas so many others are told through a single guide's perspective, this gave me a peek into how the summit groups compare. Himex is pricey, sure, but going it alone? (And I know that this book can't be considered unbiased, it was pretty obviously pro-Himex, but when Brice called David Sharp's parents to tell them about their son - and then built a cairn memorial for them himself! - I was incredibly moved. Who would ever go with Asian Trekking after that?)

So now my "what would I do there?" nervestrings have been plucked again, and I'm going to add those who walked past David Sharp early and the teams that mutter "no English" as they scoot past to the list of horrible souls that includes those who shoved Beck Wethers in his tent alone a decade earlier, and get all judgey with the single-minded focus on the summit, and savour that uncomfortable wonder over if I'd be one bit different.
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