No Way Down: Life and Death on K2
The news cycle of a mountaineering tragedy works like this: First come the sketchy blog posts, then newspaper and magazine stories, and finally, a couple of years after the accident, the requisite books. That’s why your local bookstore’s shelves are currently clogged with rehashings of the August 2008 tragedy on Pakistan’s K2, during which missteps and a massive ice fall killed 11. This calamity’s crop features no fewer than four books—including survivor accounts by Dutchman Wilco van Rooijen and Italian Marco Confortola. If you need just one version of the story, go with New York Times staff writer Graham Bowley’s No Way Down: Life and Death on K2 (Harper, $26), which cobbles a compelling narrative from interviews with most of the survivors. Bowley’s book is a quick read, reported mostly from sea level. “He watched as the figure slipped… cartwheeling all the way over, head over heels,” he writes in one of the more gripping moments. Though Bowley admits to re-creating dialogue “based on [his] impressions of the people,” No Way Down still amounts to the most complete report of the tragedy to date.