Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2's Deadliest Day
by Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan
Norton, 2012. 285 pgs. Nonfiction
On August 1, 2008, eleven climbers died on the slopes of K2, the world's second highest mountain. In 2010, Graham Bowley published a chilling, elegant narrative of that disaster in "No Way Down: Life and Death on K2." In this new book, "Buried in the Sky . . . " Zuckerman and Padoan expand on Bowley's text by providing background on and eyewitness testimony from the high altitude native guides who risked the anger of their gods as well as their own lives in taking their clients to the top of the mountain. Most of the fatalities of that day resulted not from the attempt to summit, which many did way too late in the day after the congestion at K2's Bottleneck slowed everyone down, but because as the climbers descended in the darkness, seracs above the Bottleneck broke away carrying some climbers to their deaths, and tearing away the fixed ropes that would have guided the others to safety. Because the book lets us into the lives of the Nepalese, Pakistani, and Tibetan guides, their heroism and selflessness shine even more brightly, and their loss cuts more deeply. I would recommend reading the Bowley book first, then on to the Zuckerman/Padoan volume in order to get the truest picture of one of the most tragic days in the annals of mountaineering.