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The Next Everest

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The Next Everest by Jim Davidson

Is there something you wanted to know about climbing Mt Everest?  Your questions will be answered here. After a harrowing experience mid-trip, an unexpected 7.8 earthquake sent this author and many more back to the drawing board for a second attempt at scaling the highest peak in the world. 

You’ll have a front row seat to every step and arm reach at certain points of his climb. One mistake can mean death, as bodies left behind will attest. It’s not all climbing. There’s a lot of waiting too for altitude acclimation, weather and supplies. 

You’ll hang on white knuckled as Davidson describes his escape from this particular disaster.  Preparation for one Everest climb is mind boggling; but a second attempt? The Next Everest becomes a metaphor for anything difficult you might want to try, and Davidson encourages us all to keep open to the next Everest in our lives. 

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Thank you @netgalley and @stmartinspress for a chance to review this story! 

This is Jim Davidson’s story about a lifetime of climbing/preparing to summit Everest just to be sent home after the Nepali earthquake in 2015 and everything after. 

Davidson is a natural writer. He paints beautiful pictures of something (literally climbing Everest) that most people will never get to experience in their lifetime. At the same time, he wonderfully conveys the ideas of bravery, community, loss, and resilience. He pays tribute to the Nepali sherpas and acknowledges the privileges he had even as he was momentarily trapped on the side of a mountain as an earthquake ripped through. 

The second half of this book is his decision to attempt to summit again and the preparation (mental & physical) that goes with it. As an experienced climber, mountaineer and scientist, he knew how to prepare to summit the worlds tallest mountain. However, preparing to do so after living through a deadly earthquake months before is a whole different story. 

You don’t have to be interested in climbing or mountains to enjoy this one (although I very much am). He writes so that even someone with no experience can easily understand. I many times found myself choked up with tears or smiling along with him as he tells his story!
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The Next Everest by Jim Davidson

This nonfiction chronicles Davidson's story, which jumps between his childhood helping his father out with painting jobs, different climbs he has gone on, and the story of the Nepal Earthquake in 2015. He was climbing the mountain and was planning on moving farther up the morning of the earthquake and subsequent avalanches. This is a harrowing tale that evokes the style and prose of Into Thin Air, and is a must-read for any aspiring climber, mountaineer or armchair adventurer. As a budding climber and mountaineer, I was excited to read his recounting of this horrible disaster and how he felt it could be better handled in the future or what went right. It was interesting hearing the story from someone who had lived it. Rarely do I feel completely transported by the book, but his descriptions of the climb itself were breathtaking and I felt as though I was on the mountain with him, and I admit it, I cried. Please read this is if you want to feel transported to another realm. 

This ebook was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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An inspirational and fascinating mountaineering survival story. Tackling tough physical and mental goals, facing dangerous conditions and risk-taking clearly flow in Davidson’s blood!
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Talk about a compelling read!  Geologist Jim Davidson describes his inspiration and ambition in childhood as a painter with his father and ties it in with the rest of the book.  Nonlinear books are brilliant if done well.  And this is.  The Next Everest is about inspiration, hope, resilience, trust and dreaming big.  I like that the author reiterates a quote from his dad, "Focus on the climb, not the drop" which is excellent advice for any challenge.  

Davidson was on Mount Everest on the fateful date of April 25, 2015 when a 7.8 earthquake devastated the area, killing 8,900 people and 18 others who were climbing.  Money was raised to help locals rebuild their lives.  One of the most poignant moments for me was the explanation from one woman who kept her cow sheltered ahead of her family.  Davidson and others miraculously survived but trapped.  They were fortunately rescued by a helicopter before reaching the summit.  What a harrowing experience that must have been in so many ways.  Eighteen climbers did not survive.  Though unsure at first, he decided he would attempt it again and trained and trained and trained in preparation.  He succeeded in summiting in 2017.  The suspenseful descriptions practically had me holding my breath.

I enjoy true adventure stories like this which reveal the human spirit.  Not only was the story entrancing but I learned a lot such as the sun's ability to burn the roofs of mouths and how everything is far, far more difficult at high altitude including going to the bathroom.  Though I live in -40C temperatures and know winter cold, I learned much more about ice blocks, the death zone and Icefall Doctors (have always wondered what they were called!).  The geological explanations are downright fascinating.  Davidson describes his family's support.  The personal touch is beautiful!

So, whether you are interested in climbing physical mountains or not, do read this inspiring and fascinating book.

My sincere thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this breathtaking early e-ARC.
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I don’t climb mountains. As famed Himalayan data collector Miss Hawley told Everest mountain guide Dave Hahn, “I wouldn’t think of it...I want to sleep in a bed, eat at a table, and be driven around in my Beetle.” I do not own a Beetle, but the point stands regardless.

Jim Davidson has climbed mountains before; in many respects he could probably be classified as a mountaineer. Throughout his book, The Next Everest: Surviving the Mountain's Deadliest Day and Finding the Resilience to Climb Again he calls to mind the lessons he has learned from climbing Denali and working in mountain rescue. The crux of the book is his 2015 Everest summit attempt.

Mount Everest is one of those unique instances where you don’t need to explain what exactly it is to the layman. It might not be the world’s most technically challenging mountain (K2, any part of Annapurna, and Cerro Torre all present their own interesting challenges) but its size is its primary enticement. As John Oliver posits in his 2019 coverage of the mountains busy season, no one gets excited when you announce that you’ve climbed nearby Makalu, even though it is only 400 meters shorter.

Climbing Everest has carried with it, historically, its own challenges. Over 300 people have died on Everest, and recent years have been rife with the kinds of historic firsts that are made for news fluff pieces (the youngest person to climb Everest at 13, the oldest person to climb the mountain at 80, the first person to snowboard off the top). They have also been filled with tragedy. In 1996, a blizzard on Everest trapped several expeditions in the “death zone” (above 8,000 m/26,000 ft) and at the summit, resulting in the deadliest season to that point. In 2014, 16 climbing sherpa’s were killed at the Khumbu Icefall in a single tragic instant marking it as the deadliest day in Everests’ history to that point and prematurely ending the climbing season. Throughout this era of Everest climbing (the so-called commercialization of Everest), there have been several incredibly bad days and years, like when veteran operator Russell Brice pulled his entire operation off the mountain in 2012 due to concerns over safety in the Icefall and on the mountain in general, or in the pictures that get shown around the Internet of snowsuited climbers walking in lock step up bleach white ice on a single rope. Tragedy, it seems, is inherent to the makeup of Everest.

It is into this scene that Jim Davidson enters. The year is 2015.

There are two key things to know about Everest climbing. First is that it happens during a season, as there are typically only a few specific times that one can summit the mountain, and it can run from a few days to a couple of weeks - usually in April or May. Second, climbers spend about five weeks to two months on and around the mountain for something known as acclimatization where they attempt to increase their odds by “climbing high and sleeping low,” going up and down elevation to increase their bodies endurance to the high altitude conditions. The thing that is most likely to kill you on Everest, after all, is the altitude.

On April 25, 2015, a powerful earthquake rocked Nepal. Centered near the capital of Kathmandu, the earthquake and its aftershocks were a devastation. Almost 9,000 people lost their lives and 600k homes were destroyed; the cost of the earthquake is astronomical in a country where many earn less than $1000 a year. The shocks from the earthquake also hit Mount Everest, causing a series of landslides and avalanches and giving the mountain another deadliest day, with twenty-two people perishing. Davidson’s book, at least the first half, focuses on this event.

Davidson is a passable writer. A good memoir, however, can be saved by experience and perspective more than it can by the writing itself. That is not the case here. One of the key issues with Next Everest is that Davidson lacks agency during the course of the earthquake and its aftermath. Obviously he cannot control an act of nature, and he is ultimately limited by what actually happened but his perspective is one of a person being shepherded around by those in a position of authority.

Most of the book that is focused on the earthquake (about the first 40% or so) is mired in this issue. Davidson and the team he was a part of, IMG, were at Camp 1 during the course of the event, and almost all of the devastation took place at base camp. Because of the earthquake the Khumbu Icefall, which separates Everest base camp from Camp 1, had become impassable. Effectively, everyone on Everest was now trapped on the mountain, at Camp’s 1 & 2. But Davidson doesn’t have much in the way of decision making. He hauls a bucket of diarrhea to a crevasse to dump it. He makes a series of satellite calls to news outlets and talks about hanging up on Anderson Cooper's team when they make him wait in the snow. When the decision is ultimately made to have helicopter teams come up and pick up the stranded climbers two by two, it’s a decision made off screen by the expedition heads. Davidson just has to keep his head low and run to the chopper.

Compare this to a book like Jennifer Hull’s Shook: An Earthquake, a Legendary Mountain Guide, and Everest's Deadliest Day, which covers the same event. Hull collected interviews and information from a variety of sources, predominantly mountain guide and operator Dave Hahn, as well as his Sherpa sirdar Chhering Dorjee and base camp manager Mark Tucker. Hahn has to worry not only about the practicalities of getting people off the mountain, his job, but also he has friends at base camp. He’s been coming to Everest for a long time. His friends are down there. He can only watch and listen. Chhering cannot reach his pregnant wife in Kathmandu; he doesn’t know if she or his mother is alive. When the plan finally comes to fruition and they intend to move everyone off the mountain by helicopter, it’s a decision made in part by Hahn and his fellow expedition leaders. He’s also highly aware of the risks of high altitude helicopter rescues after having been in one that crashed before. There’s context and perspective there.

The stark blandness of Davidson’s experience is frequently juxtaposed with the wild horror of the experiences of those around him. When he returns to base camp, having been flown back down, he finds the area has been decimated. During peak season, Everest base camp can be home to nearly 1000 people and they are considered relatively “safe.” There is literal blood in the snow. As they climb down the mountain and back towards where they will drive and fly out of the valley -- Everest climbers typically hike into base camp as a further method of acclimatization -- they stop in a village so they can help an IMG Sherpa whose house was literally demolished by the earthquake. The massive beams of his house nearly crushed his wife and young children.

None of this is to downplay the trauma of Davidson’s experience. There is probably a great deal, though it isn’t something that he expresses well in relation to the earthquake. The death of his friend Mike, years earlier, in a climbing accident is a situation that clearly haunts Davidson. He relates a lot of other things to this experience, even taking a detour in the hike out from base camp post earthquake so that he can climb another mountain in memory of Mike. Davidson says that the earthquake is traumatizing, he says that when he posted a selfie to Facebook upon arrival back in WiFi territories, friends said he looked emotionally rough and advised that he look into therapy but he doesn’t talk about the experience of going to therapy.

What he does talk about is going back to Everest.

As the title suggests, as much as the book is about the Everest earthquake in 2015, it’s also about retrying the summit in 2017. Nepal, for whom Everest is a multi-million dollar industry, decided to honor the permits for two years. This cut out one of the expensive parts of climbing Everest -- as the permits to climb cost about $11,000/person. Climbing Everest is an incredibly expensive endeavor; to paraphrase Beck Weathers in Krakauer’s climbing classic Into Thin Air, if you have disposable income and can leave your family and job for two months, you can climb Everest. The floor for most reputable companies starts at about $45,000 with other companies ranging on up, though the averages seem to be about $75,000. This Indian man discusses buying his wife a trip to Everest instead of a BMW. There are exceptions, but it’s that kind of tax bracket. When Davidson brings up the idea of returning to the mountain to his wife Gloria, in true boomer fashion he writes as an aside: “how unlike other husbands, I didn’t spend money on boats, motorcycles or fancy cars” as though there is anything more midlife crisis than spending over $50,000 on the chance to die on a very tall mountain.

And to what end? In Buried in the Sky, a book about K2’s deadliest day, Amanda Padoan and Peter Zuckerman write about the phenomenon of the commercialization of Everest.

The first generation of high-altitude mountaineers were proud “Conquistadors of the Useless,” pioneering first ascents. But what was left once all of the major peaks had been conquered? Mountaineers scrambled for ways to distinguish themselves….Crowds packed the mountain. Amateurs who had trained on sea-level StepMills arrived at Everest, clipped their ascenders onto a fixed line, and winched their way through the clouds.

This is the crux of Davidson’s book. Why does he need to climb Everest? There isn’t really a good reason that he presents, at least not one that undercuts the very solid reasons that he should not. The technical challenge is not as present as it was even 20 years ago, but that isn’t to say that Everest is safe. “Climbers older than forty years have reduced odds of summitting...while Everest appeared blind to gender, she was certainly not blind to age,” Hull writes about Hawley’s Himalayan data. At 52, he’s well into the danger zone for Everest climbers. Additionally, Davidson is working on reconstructed knees. In the time between his 2015 and 2017 summit attempts, he must retrain himself to run, an activity he physically cannot do. He’s diagnosed with diabetes before he leaves for the 2017 trip to Nepal. This is not Alex Honnold preparing to scale the Dawn Wall, this is a retiree about to have a guided climb up a mountain with a heavy support staff.

Which doesn’t even get into the support staff. Davidson pays lip service to the Sherpa and Nepali guides and support staff, speaking some of the Sherpa language, but his actions do not reflect respect. Any mountaineering documentary stresses that a mountaineer must listen to their guide because it can mean the difference between life or death, but Davidson - who specifically asks to be assigned to a twenty-six year old Sherpa named PK - repeatedly ignores and disregards the advice of his guide. When there comes a point where PK suggests that he does not think that Davidson has the ability to make it to the summit, Davidson’s response in text is incredibly telling; he gets upset that PK doesn’t “trust” him, and goes over his head to the non-Sherpa men in charge who allow him to summit despite PK’s concerns about his speed.

PK’s speed concerns are reasonable. Slow mountaineers die on high-altitude climbs. In some of the places where the path up to Everest is single file, like the Hillary Step, they also run the risk of creating severe bottlenecks and endangering the lives of everyone around them. Not only that, but depending on the expedition company, if Davidson gets himself in a pickle despite PK’s warnings, it’s not exactly like his Sherpa just leaves him there to die. For context, there’s the story of Sange Sherpa who advised his underprepared client multiple times that they needed to turn back, but could not leave him, resulting in them both needing to be saved from the death zone and Sange ultimately losing all of his fingers to frostbite.

There’s something sort of white-liberal about the way that Davidson relates to the issues surrounding the labor at Everest. There is the stated desire to connect with the indigenous population of the area paired with colonialist action. Davidson talks early on in Next Everest about the Nepali high-altitude workers and their incredibly hazardous jobs, but chooses to connect it to a story about how when he was younger, his dad hired him and a few other painters to paint high voltage electrical towers for three times the minimum wage; “though the dangers were obvious and substantial, to make that high pay we were willing to take the risk for a few months.” There is a temptation to try and empathize with others, of course. My own family history with coal mining comes to mind when I think of Sherpa labor; young men going to work in an incredibly dangerous profession, generationally, and dying young and horribly because it’s the best paying job in the area by a long shot and it’s the only way to maybe bring your family out of poverty. But it’s very dangerous to ignore the very obvious cultural and racial implications with regards to high-altitude workers and Everest especially considering the 2014 strike (laid out incredibly well in the film Sherpa). Davidson doesn’t really contend with the racial issues at hand, they’re not a part of him finding himself on Everest.

As someone who grew up in a tourist town, I can recognize a tourist and Davidson is one. He’s the kind of tourist who so desperately wants to be perceived as a local. But Next Everest doesn’t have the perspective of someone who knows the Himalayan mountains or Nepal. It’s comfortable with climbing but it doesn’t capture the magic that can happen in those icy environments. There are better books on exactly the same event, and there are far better books on Everest. Just as the mountain has been summited before, so has this topic, and by better writers than Davidson. He doesn’t bring enough of his own voice or perspective for me to want to stay and enjoy the view.
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True story of two Everest climbs years apart and dreams come true. Best Everest book I've read. Recommend it highly.
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This was a fascinating book! I am now learning everything I can about Everest. I appreciated the author's focus on the Sherpas and awareness of how his expedition affected the local economy.  So, so interesting!
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Since the tender age of 10, after seeing the 1998 Everest Imax documentary, I have been captivated by Chomolungma - Goddess Mother of the World. In the preceding years, I have perused the numerous articles, documentaries, and books about those who brave mother nature and attempt to summit the mountain. Jim Davidson magnificently captures the natural risks of the summit while always maintaining the wonder and drive that pushes mountaineers to conquer the next summit. Davidson weaves his years of climbing with pieces of his adolescence for an incredible tale that focuses less on the 2015 earthquake and avalanche that decimated base camp (and left him stranded at Camp 1 for several days) and more on the inherent challenge that comes from attempting Everest for the second time. At times, the story meanders a bit too much into the esoteric musings of mountaineering, but it makes up for those moments for an incredibly detailed account of summiting the mountain. It truly feels as though you are walking through the death zone with Davidson and I found myself tearing up when he successfully summited and made it down the mountain. It was clear that Davidson has a deep respect for his hobby and the nations that he travels to when climbing. Absolutely a must read for any adventure readers!
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Having trained his whole life to tackle Mount Everest, on April 15th, 2015 veteran climber Jim Davidson found himself on the mountain when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake would strike resulting in the deadliest day in its history.  Escaping intact, Jim would spend the next two years wondering if his dream was over.  Could he make another attempt?  Was his age catching up with him?  To even consider attempting the mountain a second time is a monumental task - especially having luckily escaped its deadliest day.  Davidson struggled with the decision of whether or not to return to Everest.  It wasn’t easy.  But when you were on the cusp of a dream, it’s sometimes harder to let it slip through your fingers than to try again.

I love a good adventure story.  It’s no secret that I enjoy reading about folks traveling to remote and uninhabitable locations – I mean, I think I’ve read half a dozen books about Arctic exploration alone.  When I saw this one up for review on Netgalley, it immediately grabbed my attention.  Having read what many consider the definitive Everest book in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air a few years ago, I wondered if Davidson’s account would provide me with something new or would it simply be a re-tread of familiar territory?

Davidson’s story is a different one.  While both books deal with disasters taking place on Everest (Krakauer’s being a storm), Davidson’s is also tied to his personal history and his seemingly endless tank of resilience when faced with challenges.  Being on Everest while an earthquake struck isn’t the only setback he experienced while mountaineering over the years.  I won’t spoil it, but Davidson has a wealth of experience of finding the courage to get back up when life knocks you down.

I came away from this book feeling inspired, to say the least.  Considering Davidson is a keynote motivational speaker, this perfectly fits the bill.  Normally, I enjoy reading before I go to bed and it’s not often that a book will keep me up late when I’m actually hoping that it will tire out my eyes.  The Next Everest did indeed keep me up past my bedtime as I just had to know what happened next.  The mark of a true page turner.
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Surviving the Mountain’s Deadliest day and Finding the Resilience to Climb Again

What a stunning true story of adventure, disaster and resilience. Jim Davidson, a high altitude climber shares gripping adventures from summiting Mount Everest, surviving earthquakes, avalanches and escaping alone from deep glacial crevasse.

In April 2015, Jim Davidson was climbing Mount Everest when a 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. He was stranded above base camp for 40 hours before he was brought to safety but important to him was getting back to base camp and help people get to safety and trying to rebuild. This disaster ended his first attempt to reach the summit. He finally achieved his dream with an estimate of 60 other climbers when he returned two years later.

M. Davidson describes in details his 36 years of climbing experiences and the physical and mental preparation one needs to do. Three keys points he tells us: more training than you have ever done in your life, increase the difficulty and be discipline enough to keep up with it and hit it harder the next time.

“The Next Everest” is said in the first person narrative. Step by step M. Davidson tells us his next move in words filled with emotions. When he describes the tremors and aftershocks, the avalanche and the rumbling noises you can feel in his words how scared he was but in crisis he stayed cool and calmly acted decisively to make things better and safer for everyone. A lot is said in this book, I would say even too much at times such is a lengthy description of human poop...yes even that detailed, although he did tell us to make a point. Every word is vividly said as he describes his ascends and descends in order to reach the summit of the highest peak in the world.

The 2015 tragic incident was well publicized around the word. I remember it so well.

In a few words:

This is a poignant account that captures the true essence of Mount Everest and the resilience of the human spirit. I will let you discover this gem of a book and the treasures it hides....
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Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin Press for this ARC but all opinions are my own. 

I really enjoyed this book.  It kept me at the edge of my seat and the writing kept me wanting more.  This book is about Davidson's account of his climb of Everest during an earthquake in April 2015.  The details of his climb and what occurred during that trip make you feel like you were there with him. What amazed me even more was that he went back in 2017 to climb Everest again.  If you are a fan of outdoor adventures this book is for you!
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Thank you Net Galley for the free ARC. Description of the deadly earthquake that sent an avalanche roaring through base camp in 2015 and the return of the author a year later for his summit attempt.
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One man's experience enduring unimaginable circumstances and navigating fear. An intimate telling with universal inspiration.
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A tense page-turner that will appeal to readers who love true life adventures and stories of survival. Fans of Krakauer will eat this up.
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I could not stop reading this book, The writing and story were so compelling. I can’t say I was ever interested in Everest or climbing but Jim Davidson brought it together in a ver enjoyable and meaningful way.

This was not a typical motivational book. Not a self help style. This was a story that encompassed so many meaningful insights and life lessons that I believe it would be useful for everyone. I enjoyed every page!
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A wild ride of a read as someone who is terrified of heights this book of climbing Everest was a true nightmare for me.I was immediately caught up in this adventure dangerous full of terror.I could not put this book down,#netgalley#the nexteverest
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“Mountaineering is a form of moving meditation.” — Jim Davidson

THE NEXT EVEREST is a harrowing true story of how climber Davidson survived a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that set off avalanches across the world’s highest peak. It was April 25, 2015, Everest’s worst disaster. 

Davidson’s evocative descriptions made me feel I was right beside him, taking one step on perilous ice, then a breath, another step, then another breath, heart racing to three times normal. I recalled climbing the highest point on the Continental Divide, the 14,278-foot Grays Peak in Colorado. Incredibly fit, I still found myself frighteningly breathless. It was summer without ice, just a long steady hike to heaven. I understand why climbers climb. 

Yet only the most courageous of them climb Everest. And on that fateful day, disaster trumpeted its arrival, startling Jim from sleep: 

“Ice dust thickened the air. When I inhaled, frozen sludge choked my windpipe. I gagged and gasped hard, which sent even more ice daggers down my throat. They scratched and burned and chilled my airway.”

Miraculously, Jim and his team survived and were helicoptered off the mountain two days later, deeply shaken. It took two more years before Jim healed enough psychologically to consider trying again. In 2017, he mounted Everest’s summit. 

Why do climbers put themselves at such risk? How could Jim even think about doing Everest again? The questions are eloquently answered in this thrilling memoir that kept me up into the wee smalls. Most highly recommended!

5 of 5 Stars

Pub Date 20 Apr 2021
#TheNextEverest #NetGalley

Thanks to Jim, St. Martin's Press, and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine.
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Great read I recommend for any lovers of Mountain climbing, true disaster reads or anyone who just likes a good book.
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Exciting and terrifying comes to mind when reading this book.  I enjoyed this memoir of Jim Davidson's on his first attempt in April of 2015 to summit Mt. Everest and the 7.8 earthquake that aborted the attempt.  He trains hard and returns to Mr. Everest in 2017 to accomplish this.  I am afraid of heights and this book was difficult for me to read in parts.  I loved all the geologic and environmental science information that the author was able to provide regarding the earthquake and climbing Mt. Everest.  

Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the ARC of this fascinating read in exchange for an honest review.
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