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In 1967, 12 young men attempted to climb Alaska's MountMcKinley - known to the locals as Denali - one of the most popular and deadly mountaineering destinations in the world. Only five survived.
Journalist Andy Hall, son of the park superintendent at the time, investigates the tragedy. He spent years tracking down survivors, lost documents, and recordings of radio communications. In Denali's Howl, Hall reveals the full story of an expedition facing conditions conclusively established here for the first time: at an elevation of nearly 20,000 feet, these young men endured an "arctic superblizzard", with howling winds of up to 300 miles an hour and wind chill that freezes flesh solid in minutes. All this was without the high-tech gear and equipment climbers use today.
As well as the story of the men caught inside the storm, Denali'sHowl is the story of those caught outside it trying to save them - Hall's father among them. The book gives listeners a detailed look at the culture of climbing then and now and raises uncomfortable questions about each player in this tragedy. Was enough done to rescue the climbers, or were their fates sealed when they ascended into the path of this unprecedented storm?
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Erik on 06-19-14
A study in human behaviour
If you've never read any other works of the mountain climbing genre, this work would be a good introduction. As with many of the works, much of the story revolves around the personalities and interpersonal relationships within the teams attempting these extreme challenges.
What makes this work interesting is the historical nature of the climb and makes for a good comparison of how far technology has come regarding forecasts, equipment, and communications. Much of what occurred in this story could likely be avoided or mitigated by todays technology.
Technology hasn't, however, changed human behaviour and group dynamics. What is described in this story would apply today from this perspective, and anyone considering an extreme challenge, from long distance ocean passages to mountaineering, would do well to read and study as many of these cases as possible.
I also liked the follow up work concerning the reactions of the relatives of those lost to the mountain. It makes a good reflection point, specifically about how families have a burning desire to blame others for the decisions and bad luck that killed their loved ones. I guess that's how we've ended up with the litigious society we have today.
The narrator did a great job with this story. His cadence and inflection was pleasing and enhanced the work.
Much has been written about Everest, K2, etc. but Denali is often overlooked. This book fills in this void quite nicely and gives the reader a lot to think upon.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By David Shear on 07-07-14
I loved the fact that the author was the son of the ranger. I just loved that point of view. The story started really strong. I was really interested to see where it was going to go.
The character development for the first half of the book was really interesting. Then the action and details around the key part of the story just never unfolded.
It was disappointing. I listen to a lot of non-fiction and the key seems to be how much information the author can get their hands on. It's seems like Hall didn't get as much information as he needed to tell a comprehensive story.
It just really fizzled.
The narrator was just ok too. He stumbled over words, he mispronounced words, and several times it was obvious he was just reading from a script. There was no flow or naturalness to his narration.
12 of 15 people found this review helpful