On June 21, 1992, two best friends summited Mount Rainier. Within hours, their exquisite accomplishment would be overshadowed by tragedy. On their descent, Jim Davidson fell through an ice bridge on Rainier's northeast flank, plunging eighty feet into a narrow crevasse inside the Emmons Glacier and dragging Mike Price in after him. Mike fell to his death; Jim, badly injured and armed with minimal gear, faced an almost impossible climb back out of the crevasse, up a nearly vertical ice wall. Mourning his friend's death, he miraculously climbed out of the crevasse and lived to relate his experiences.
Told in parallel narratives of the tragedy and the climbers' lives, The Ledge is both a riveting, wrenching story and an inspirational adventure tale.
In an extraordinarily measured, even comforting tone of voice, Davidson reads his own story of surviving a harrowing near-death experience on Mount Rainier, Washington. In 1992, he and his mountain climbing partner, Mike Price, fell 80 feet into a glacier crevasse. The fall killed Price within minutes; Davidson, who was not badly hurt, escaped by climbing a vertical and sometimes overhanging ice wall 80 feet back to the top, where rescuers found him and brought him to safety.
The benefit of hearing Davidson read his own story is obvious, and far outweighs the fact that he's not a professional voice-over actor. He brings to the narration the actual, physical experience of having lived through the events of the book: the terrifying fall into darkness, trying unsuccessfully to resuscitate Price, the excruciating moment when he realizes that if he doesn't climb out of the crevasse by nightfall, he'll die there. Davidson's voice has a Zen-like quality that makes it easier for the listener to understand how he found the incredible physical and mental strength necessary to climb out of the crevasse and save his own life. The calm, even tenor of his voice suggests both his presence of mind and the fact that he has examined each scene of the story and fully understands what the experience meant to him and the insights it has brought to his life.
Davidson reading his own story makes a difference not only when he is relating the adrenaline-pumping aspects of the fall. His empathic voice also delivers the stories of how he first got hooked on mountain climbing, the development of his rock-solid relationship with his father that sustained him throughout the Rainier experience, and the day he met his future wife. His reading of his back story gives the listener the sense of having gotten to know Davidson the man, not just the climbing accident survivor. Maggie Frank
"Davidson and journalist Vaughn have crafted a modern Aristotelian tragedy." (Publishers Weekly)
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- Kim Hamacher