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"I'm going to die here."

  • Aug 14, 2010
Thoroughly researched, Jordan's Last Man on the Mountain puts to rest the story of Dudley Wolfe, the wealthy member of the 1939 team of climbers determined to conquer the unclaimed heights of K2, on the border of Pakistan and China. Sixty-three years after Wolfe's death on K2, Jordan explores the many ways men's plans can be thwarted by nature, the allure of K2 and the imperfect relationships of climbers when their ambitions and flaws are exacerbated by the devastating effects of altitude and exposure. Although he has never climbed before, Dudley cannot resist the thrill of nature's challenge, when meets German-American Fritz Weissner at a social gathering and is seduced by Weissner's enthusiasm for an expedition to K2.

And while reputable and experienced guides are considered, by the time the final group gathers at the base of the mountain, it is clear that a lack of experience defines these men, some with a tendency to drink and play pranks on one another, not yet taking their venture seriously. Jordan captures the spirit of this mismatched team at the beginning of their ascent and the problems that beset the inexperienced as the days and physical demands turn from enthusiasm to exhaustion. There is growing conflict between the personalities of the younger members of the team and Fritz's demagogic posturing, characteristics that serve to undermine the undertaking at critical junctures. Most look to the wealthy and somewhat older Dudley to solve the financial problems facing them, a situation at which Wolfe eventually balks.

In the end, Dudley and three Sherpas are lost and the stories of those who return are tailored to protect their reputations. Although the exact circumstances may never be known, what is even more fascinating in this tragic book is the problematic mix of personalities and the physical hazards of the climb, the effects of altitude at 25,000 feet. Dudley's story is finally told, as is Weissner's, Fritz's goal tantalizingly close when he makes the decision regarding Wolfe's predicament. The result is a riveting tale of man vs. nature, the courage and hubris of adventurers and the myths that flourish in the absence of truth. Luan Gaines/2010.

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Luan Gaines ()
Ranked #109
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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About this book


The untold story of Dudley Wolfe and America’s ill-fated 1939 expedition to the roof of the world.In 1939 the Savage Mountain claimed its first victim. Born into vast wealth yet uneasy with a life of leisure, Dudley Wolfe, of Boston and Rockport, Maine, set out to become the first man to climb K2, the world’s second-highest mountain and, in the opinion of mountaineers, an even more formidable challenge than Mt. Everest. Although close to middle age and inexperienced at high altitude, Wolfe, with the team leader, made it higher than any other members of the expedition, but he couldn’t get back down. Suffering from altitude sickness and severe dehydration, he was abandoned at nearly 25,000 feet; it would be another sixty-three years before Jennifer Jordan discovered his remains.

In a story whereThe Great GatsbymeetsInto Thin Air,readers follow Wolfe from the salons of Europe to the most forbidding landscape on earth. Wolfe went to K2 to find his own strength, only to encounter his teammates’ lethal weaknesses in a place called the Death Zone. 16 pages of photographs

The Godwin-Austen Glacier, K2, July 2002 --
An invitation to the ends of the earth --
The gentleman soldier and sailor --
Climbing's controversial genius --
The 1939 American K2 Expedition Team --
The getting there --
The climb --
A family waits --
The highest men on earth --
The descent --
The last man on the mountain --
Dudley's vigil --
Coming home --
The reckoning --
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ISBN-10: 0393077780
ISBN-13: 978-0393077780
Author: Jennifer Jordan
Genre: Outdoors & Nature, Sports
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
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""I'm going to die here.""
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