Philips’ Book Reviews
DARK SUMMIT – NICK HEIL
The title Dark Summit may initially sound like some cheesy adventure story and believe me this is adventure but there is nothing cheesy about it. This is an excellent tale of life on the edge, quite literally, the edge of the highest mountain on earth, Mount Everest.
The author, Nick Heil does a brilliant job of painting a picture that fully drives home the stark and bleak reality of conditions at this kind of altitude, (above 28,000 feet), where life is at its limit of existence. This is no place for man.
Yet there are those few who accept the challenge of looking adversity in the face and against the odds return triumphant. Their successful conquest of such extreme conditions has inspired others to follow in their frozen footsteps in the hope of emulating their glorious achievement. Many who don’t live up to the challenge and their now frozen corpses litter the side of the mountain.
Heil story largely concentrates on events that took place on the mountain in 2006. The lure of Everest is such that now so many companies and outfitters offer the opportunity to get you up to the summit. It takes a special kind of person to reach that 29, 000 foot peak. Not all of those special people return. The romantic notion of the average man achieving such dizzy heights is reflected in the fact that in 2006 many of those people remained at high altitude, frozen into the wild and white landscape.
This book, without judgment of those concerned with the events of 2006, tells the story of some of those people while at the same time raising some moral and ethical questions about the climbers themselves and the companies that help them do so.
Nick Heil has written a compelling narrative that you won’t easily be able to put down. I have lived in the tropical lowland wet forests of Costa Rica for many years where the temperatures never drop below 72°F, but I felt a chill reading this book. Thoroughly recommended reading.
Philip is a biologist, writer and photographer as well as the onsite naturalist guide at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.