Monday, June 13, 2011

The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier

On Friday, I vowed to start catching up on my reading and I started with one from the Amazon Vine Program - THE LEDGE: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughan. I blew through it in record time. I'm not a climber, but I'm fascinated by those who do. I've read just about every book on Mt. Everest, including Jon Krakauer's excellent, Into Thin Air. The Ledge ranks up there with the best of them. It's one of the most exciting and heart-wrenching stories I've read in a long time.

It's a story of friendship, adventure, and tragedy, a riveting tale of a man who overcomes disaster while climbing Mount Rainier. Imagine falling 80' into a seemingly bottomless chasm, losing your partner, and overcoming what appears to be insurmountable odds to survive and then dealing with the emotional aftermath and survivor's guilt.
Back history and family relationships are interspersed throughout. We learn how the two climbers met, and the friendship that developed between them. The author uses technical climbing terms, but they're explained and don't overwhelm the reader. The description of the fall was so good; I could feel the cold, the terror, and the grief, as if I was right there. It doesn't get any better than that.
Product Description from Amazon

“My eyes travel up the frozen walls. I figure it is eighty feet up to the sunlight. The walls above me climb up at about eighty degrees, then they go dead vertical, and then, higher up, they overhang. It is as if I am looking out from the belly of a beast, its jagged white teeth interlocking above me.”

In June 1992, best friends Jim Davidson and Mike Price stood triumphantly atop Washington’s Mount Rainier, celebrating what they hoped would be the first of many milestones in their lives as passionate young mountaineers. Instead, their conquest gave way to catastrophe when a cave-in plunged them deep inside a glacial crevasse—the pitch-black, ice-walled hell that every climber’s nightmares are made of.

An avid adventurer from an early age, Davidson was already a seasoned climber at the time of the Rainier ascent, fully aware of the risks and hopelessly in love with the challenge. But in the blur of a harrowing free fall, he suddenly found himself challenged by nature’s grandeur at its most unforgiving. Trapped on a narrow, unstable frozen ledge, deep below daylight and high above a yawning chasm, he would desperately battle crumbling ice and snow that threatened to bury him alive, while struggling in vain to save his fatally injured companion. And finally, with little equipment, no partner, and rapidly dwindling hope, he would have to make a fateful choice—between the certainty of a slow, lonely death or the seeming impossibility of climbing for his life.

At once a heart-stopping adventure story, a heartfelt memoir of friendship, and a stirring meditation on fleeting mortality and immutable nature, The Ledge chronicles one man’s transforming odyssey from the dizzying heights of elation and awe to the punishing depths of grief and hard-won wisdom. This book’s visceral, lyrical prose sings the praises of the physical world’s wonders, while searching the souls of those willing, for better or worse, to fully embrace it.

About the Author

Jim Davidson is an accomplished climber, speaker, and science writer. He has brought inspiration to corporate audiences and associations across the United States and overseas through his professional business, Speaking of Adventure. Davidson lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his two adventurous kids and his very tolerant wife.

Kevin Vaughan is a versatile reporter and writer at The Denver Post. In 2008, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing. He wrote a five-part series, “The Crevasse,” which delved into the accident on Mount Rainier that took the life of Mike Price and changed Jim Davidson forever. Vaughan lives in the Denver area with his wife and three children.

Available on Amazon:

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