101. The Death Zone (Matt Dickinson)

Sunday, May 30, 2010
The Death Zone (Climbing Everest through the Killer Storm) is Matt Dickinson's version of what happened during the 1996 disasterous climbing season on Everest.

Dickinson was hired to film a documentary chronicling British actor (and one of my personal faves) Brian Blessed's third attempt at reaching hte summit of the world's tallest mountain. Blessed, unfortunately, failed to reach the top once again but Dickinison himself and a few other members of the expedition did. During their time spent on the mountain, a terrible storm developed and eight climbers were killed including some of the world's best. Dickinson also doesn't shy away from offereing his own opinions on the actions of other expeditions including some who passed by struggling fellow climbers, leaving them to certain death.

The Death Zone not only chronicles Blessed's failed attemtp but offers a personal, first hand account of the extreme difficulties that such an undertaking entails. As one reviewer described him, Dickinson comes across, at times, as 'selfish' and 'self-absorbed'. I didn't find this offputting at all - while the original intent was to film a documentary, it ultimately turned into a personal journey for the author, testing his own limits and pushing himself (literally) to new heights.

One thing I enjoyed more about Dickinson's account of the 1996 climbing season than I did when I read Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air is that The Death Zone seemed to be almost brutally honest at times. Dickinson isn't afraid to relate his experiences with altitude sickness and his unexpected, overwhelming desire to reach the top at almost any cost. His story was far more personal and therefore more relatable to the reader.

If you're looking for a quick yet exciting read about what it's really like to climb Everest, I highly recommend grabbing a copy. Thanks to the Mr. and Mrs. AsteRed for sending this my way.


Red said...

My pleasure! :)

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