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K2: THE 1939 TRAGEDY Andrew Kauffman and William Putnam 1992 1st ed Hardcover DJ Near Fine-Fine Mulitple Copies Available
By Kauffman, Andrew and William Putnam
Price: $49.99


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Seattle, The Mountaineers, 1992, 1st edition. 223 pp, b/w photos and illustrations, mapped end papers. Hardcover with dust jacket. Near Fine to Fine.

The true and untold story of Weissner's controversial 1939 K2 expedition. 

K2: The 1939 Tragedy unravels the complex tangle of events and personalities that led to four deaths on the 1939 American expedition to K2. With the aid of a recently available trip diary, this book challenges the conventionally accepted version of the story. 

An absorbing review of the facts and circumstances surrounding the tragic 1939 K2 expedition and its aftermath. Weaving a newly discovered, first hand account by one of the expeditioners, with already known, heretofore, controversial historical data from others on the expedition, the authors masterfully reconstruct the events which led to the deaths of four individuals, three Sherpas and one American, on K2 in the wild Karakoram range.

After many weeks in the mountains, overcome by altitude sickness and inexperience, only three members of the expedition are physically able or willing to push on to the summit. The only ones so inclined are its expedition leader, Fritz Wiessner, the rich American who bankrolled part of the expedition, Dudley Wolfe, and the plucky Sherpa porter, Pasang Lama.

Dudley Wolfe, with whom Fritz Wiessner seems to have developed a client-guide relationship, is unable to continue past camp VIII, limited by his own inexperience. Fritz, a superb climber, continue along towards the summit with Pasang Lama. They set up Camp IX and continue on towards the summit, where they manages to make it up to within 8oo feet of the summit. There, the plucky Pasang Lama is unable to continue. They decide to return to Camp IX with the intention of resting and returning the next day for a new assault on the summit.

It was not to be. On their descent, they lost their crampons. After they rested in Camp IX, they realized that they needed more supplies, so they went down to Camp VIII. There they found Dudley, but no new supplies had been brought up from the lower camps. So, they all decide to go down to Camp VII to investigate and restock.

On the way down, Dudley's inexperience causes them to have an accident on the ropes. They fall but manage to survive. Pasang Lama, however, is seriously injured, and the sleeping bag and air mattress that Dudley carried is lost to the mountain. Fritz, having left his bedding in Camp IX, expecting to find some in the lower camps, is disappointed when they manage to reach camp VII, only to find it in disarray and stripped of all bedding and sleeping bags! Remarkably, both Dudley and Fritz had by this time spent nearly a month in the dead zone without supplementary oxygen. Therein lies the tale.

Read on! The account is at times mesmerizing. This remarkably well researched chronicle manages to paint a riveting picture of the the travails of this expedition from its confused beginnings to its tragic end. It shows what can happen when all members of the expedition are clearly not on the same page.


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