Ridgeway describes the epic story of the first successful American climb of K2 in
1978. Two aspects to this climb are explored in great detail. The first subplot tells
the story of the organizational and personal issues that emerged within the
expedition. The schism that developed between the four aggressive climbers (Ridgeway,
Reichardt, Wickwire, and Roskelley) and some of the slower, less driven
climbers demonstrates the forces when subjected to the pressure for progress
and the debilitating effects of waiting out the inevitable storms. The second
sub-plot describes the route selection process at the top of the mountain
which culminates in the decision by three of the four climbers complete the
climb without supplemental oxygen. The almost hallucinatory description of
Wickwire's emergency bivouac at 28,000 feet is a compelling story of his
determination to survive.
This book is a compelling read for those interested
in the history of mountain climbing.