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Item #: OP2413AB-104
K2 LIES AND TREACHERY Robert Marshall 2009 1st UK edition Hardcover DJ New
By Marshall, Robert
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UK, Carreg, 2009, 1st UK edition. 232 pp, 6 b/w photos. Red cloth hardcover with dust jacket. New condion.

The 1954 ascent of K2, the second highest mountain in the world, by an Italian expedition was one of the most significant in the history of climbing on the world’s highest peaks. Much harder than Everest, and only 230m lower, the mountain had already repelled attempts by several strong teams, expeditions on which five men had died.
 
Back home in Italy, news of the success was triumphantly greeted by a nation keen to re-establish itself on the world’s stage after the destruction and humiliation of the Second World War. When they returned the climbers, and in particular the two who had reached the summit, Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli, together with expedition leader Ardito Desio, were hailed as heroes and showered with honors. Desio’s book of the climb became a best-seller and was translated into many languages.

 

But the expedition had a dark side, one which Italian officialdom attempted to conceal. Success had been achieved because two men, team member Walter Bonatti and the Hunza porter Mahdi, had risked their lives in taking the oxygen equipment needed for the final climb to Camp 9 late in the day before the summit climb. Unable to find the camp, which had not been placed at the agreed upon position, the two men had spent a night in the open at over 8000m.

 
They were lucky to survive the ordeal, and Mahdi sustained dreadful frostbite injuries. The incident was crucial to the final success, but was barely mentioned in the official account. Bonatti’s attempts to discover why Camp 9 had been moved ultimately led to his being accused of having attempted to usurp the summit team’s position on the mountain and having used the oxygen himself during his bivouac, usage which meant the summit team ran short and had to complete the climb without the aid of the precious gas.
 
Appalled by the accusations, Bonatti sued for libel – and won. The court case led to further accusations and counter-accusations as Bonatti fought to have the official record of the expedition amended to include the true story of the summit climb. Then, in 2004, to mark the 50th anniversary of the climb, Lino Lacedelli finally admitted that the official account of the summit climb was false, though he still did not admit that Bonatti’s story was correct. Only in 2008 was Bonatti’s account finally accepted as correct and the official version of the story of the ascent of K2 finally rewritten by the Italian Alpine Club.

 

Robert Marshall, an Australian surgeon, became interested in the story many years ago. He taught himself Italian to follow the machinations directly, corresponded with Bonatti and eventually translated Bonatti’s biography into English. Now he has painstakingly reconstructed the dark, extraordinary story of the bivouac, the summit climb and its aftermath – a tale of lies and treachery. 

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