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EPIC: SURVIVAL FROM THE WORLD'S HIGHEST PEAKS Willis, Clint 1997
By Willis, Clint
Price: $20.00


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1997. 342 pp, photos. Fifteen of the greatest mountain expedition survival stories of all time: from Krakauer, Venables, Tasker, Boardman, Roberts, Herzog, Shipton, Tilman, many more!

The hypnotic appeal of danger, hardship, extreme elements, and facing death are fascinating to many readers, as witnessed by the popularity of The Perfect Storm and Into Thin Air. Both books related the drama surrounding nature at its most violent and dangerous. Epic is a compilation of 15 memorable expeditions to world-famous peaks.

Included here are Jon Krakauer's solo ascent of Devil's Thumb in Alaska, a winter ascent of Mt. McKinley, and Alfred Lansing's narrative of the 1915 Shackleton expedition. The listener experiences cold, hunger, and fright at the hands of writers who are actual climbers. Their words are powerful because they ring with authenticity. The hardships these climbers endured go almost beyond human comprehension.

In one story, a man is stricken with blood clots in his legs; his team members go through tremendous difficulties in an attempt to bring him down rather than continue their climb to the summit. Another story recounts a blinding snowstorm that keeps climbers in their tents for many days and describes the great efforts that must be made merely to melt enough water to stay alive.

Among the most fascinating are Lawrence Beesley's eyewitness account of the sinking of the Titanic and a shipwreck survivor's diary of a 74-day ordeal aboard an inflatable raft. What keeps Rough Water from being as compelling as Epic is the offsetting move from true-life encounters to fictional stories and from chapters that leave you hanging, either wanting to know what happens or not caring about the outcome.

Epic, on the other hand, is powerful, bringing the prospect of frostbitten flesh, chattering teeth, sudden avalanches, and treacherous ice paths into vivid clarity. The listener feels the intense discomforts and experiences the worry of the climbers but, with morbid fascination, still wants more. Both collections are read by experienced audio narrators Rick Adamson, Eric Conger, Alan Sklar, Graeme Malcolm, Simon Prebble, and the king himself, George Guidall. Each reader performs competently, adding to the suspense and momentum of each story. Paperback, as new condition.


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