Listen free for 30 days

Dark Summit

The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season
By: Nick Heil
Narrated by: David Drummond
Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
Categories: Sport, Other
4.5 out of 5 stars (210 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

In early May 2006, a young British climber named David Sharp lay dying near the top of Mount Everest while forty other climbers walked past him on their way to the summit. A week later, Lincoln Hall, a seasoned Australian climber, was left for dead near the same spot. Hall's death was reported around the world, but the next day he was found alive after spending the night on the upper mountain with no food and no shelter.

If David Sharp's death was shocking, it was not singular: despite unusually good weather, ten others died attempting to reach the summit that year.

In this meticulous inquiry into what went wrong, Nick Heil tells the full story of the deadliest year on Everest since the infamous season of 1996. He introduces Russell Brice, the outfitter who has done more than anyone to provide access to the summit via the mountain's north side---and who some believe was partially responsible for Sharp's death. As more climbers attempt the summit each year, Heil shows how increasingly risky expeditions and unscrupulous outfitters threaten to turn Everest into a deadly circus.

Written by an experienced climber and outdoor writer, Dark Summit is both a riveting account of a notorious climbing season and a troubling investigation into whether the pursuit of the ultimate mountaineering prize has spiraled out of control.

©2008 Nick Heil (P)2008 Tantor

Critic reviews

"Here is humanity itself, personified in exemplary fashion by Nick Heil, addressing the Everest culture's lack of compassion and coming up with the right answers." (Bob Shacochis, author of The Immaculate Invasion)
Through rock-solid reporting and vital prose, Heil leads us up into this rarefied world, step by hypoxic step." (Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    124
  • 4 Stars
    63
  • 3 Stars
    22
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    103
  • 4 Stars
    46
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    105
  • 4 Stars
    39
  • 3 Stars
    16
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    0
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Good in parts

Hard to follow in places as an audio book but informative and interesting read .

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, the reader sounds a little automated

Great book, the reader sounds a little automated which took some getting used to. I ended up changing the play back speed to a little slower which helped

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Utterly full of journo speak

Well the boook is interesting enough if you want every mind numbing detail about the climbers and their background. If you want to learn about mountaineering though stop after the prologue. it gets boring after that. it reads like a journalistic piece cum documentary full of ‘he said’ and ‘she recalled’ stuff like that. The naration isn’t bad onsidering the mterial he has to work with but the whole book makes mountaineering sound like the kind of thing you could do if you were in a wheelchair as long as you have thee cash to pay for it that is, it cheapens the sport if such a word might apply but then commerce does that anyway i guess. Not good for the purist I’m afraid.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Shockingly good

A shocking Account of what went wrong on Everest worst death toll year
Very well written the book flows nicely and looks at everything that went wrong without biased
It’s a must read for not just climbers but anyone who wants to take a good look at human nature, commercialism and the blame culture we live in
It’s shocking and thought provoking it leaves you with a need to talk about what is so wrong with the Society we live in
Excellent book well worth a listen

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping

Having read numerous accounts of the epic journey to the summit of Everest... this is by far the best. It's a gripping story of endurance, adrenaline fueled sadness of reality... Leaves you wondering why people put themselves through it and to pay for not knowing if you will ever return...
R I P to all those that don't...

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Exciting & Engaging

An extremely interesting audio book which captures your imagination expertly narrated and factually based .. well done

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Thoroughly enjoyed

enjoyed this book and find it even more compelling than any other book about the giants. narrator very good, easy listening, but could have done this without trying to imitate other accents.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic!!

What a throughly enthralling book. I was glued to my headphones from start to finish. Nicely narrated, and written with a clear insight into the subject.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not the Worst Everest Adventure

Or the best but a solid account and insight into what makes these men and women tick. I wouldn't want to be in the trenches with a climber but they do fascinate me. Did the team deserve the criticism from Sir Edumund? You decide.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

gripping

really fast paced informative and very interesting. I thought it was very well written and read. highly recommended

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Don Lance
  • Don Lance
  • 30-05-09

Good summary of the 2006 season

I liked this book, and thought it to be a good summary of the issues & controversies of the 2006 Everest expeditions. The author does a good job of helping you to understand the challenges that climbers face, and the growing problem that commercialization is creating -- that is, drawing people who have the money to attend an expedition but not the training, experience and mindset of what is needed to conquer Everest. It seems that Everest is drawing unqualified people for the purpose of achieving a personal goal, having "bragging rights" or ego. And although many train for months to develop the physical stamina, the lack of experience -- and also common sense due to the high altitude -- is sometimes fatal.

In the end, the author helps you to understand the perspectives of the clients and the expeditions leaders. And then there's the mountain itself. Make no mistake, it's not a game or fun recreational activity. Anyone who travels to Everest should consider the very real possibility that you may not return, no matter how well you think you are prepared.

Note that there is some language in a few places throughout the work. It's not excessive, but be prepared for it.

Also, I thought the narrator did a good job as well.

24 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for AudioAddict
  • AudioAddict
  • 23-04-14

Fascinating & Chilling (no pun intended)

STORY ( true) - Dark Summit is the story of those who risk their lives to climb to the "Roof of the World." It begins with a history of Mt. Everest and then moves to the controversial 2006 season, which claimed more deaths than any previous season. The book covers multiple expeditions with climbers from all over the world. It's often difficult to remember who's who, but it doesn't detract from the story.

These people climb dangerous icy slopes at temps of 50 below zero with high winds and low visibility. Often they are trapped on the mountain for days while waiting for a storm to pass and then must make their way down the mountain starving, dehydrated and numb. They are outfitted in space-type suits for warmth and must wear masks to provide supplemental oxygen -- but only a small amount that can be carried without difficulty. Even with proper rationing of oxygen, it's usually not enough, and low oxygen levels make each step extremely laborious. Most climbers' brains are barely functional, yet they are making life-and-death decisions that affect themselves and others. Many suffer from cerebral and pulmonary edema, frostbite and snowblindness. You will hear of the increasing number of climbers with handicaps or little experience who flounder and cause bottlenecks on the mountain, as others freeze while waiting for their turn to pass through an area. You will hear an account of one man who froze to death as other climbers simply passed him by on their way to the summit. Another was left dying but managed somehow to survive. The author discusses whether this is due to lack of compassion or selfish ambition of other climbers. He also tells stories of heroic and successful rescues.

Why are so many people attracted to Everest? How has it become so commercialized? After all, the cost for all this fun is up to $100,000 per person. And the payoff? If they are lucky enough to stay alive and if they time their "summit push" perfectly, they will enjoy a few brief minutes at the top of the world before survival demands that they start back down the mountain. All I can say is "Wow."

PERFORMANCE - Good job, but not a difficult performance.

OVERALL - Recommended for anyone who thinks this topic sounds interesting. Some F-words in tense situations.

STRANGE COINCIDENCE: I was listening to this on 4-18-14 when an avalanche claimed the lives of 13 sherpas, the worst single day in the history of Mt. Everest.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Bryan Dobson
  • Bryan Dobson
  • 07-02-10

An amazing story

I heard about this book while listening to the podcast "Macbreak Weekly" and am very glad that I listened. Prior to hearing this I knew nothing about mountain climbing or the history of Mount Everest for that matter.

The book is very well read and I did not find that the book dragged at any point. I would have liked a little more information on a few of the climbers, but that is a very minor complaint. I highly recommend this book and especially if you are like me who knew nothing of it before hand.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Carolyn
  • Carolyn
  • 04-10-09

Fascinating Listen

The author writes a thorough, unbiased account of the 2006 ascent on Everest. For those who have read about the 1996 tragedies on Everest, you will be interested in how the 2006 year proved so deadly, even though there were no major weather obstacles to overcome. The author does a fine job of balancing the description of the climb, along with the background information of what goes into a climb, with the intense drama of human peril during the descent. As I listened to the book, I had many questions that the author addressed, including how to reduce the number of deaths on the mountain. But one question, that the author couldn't answer, is what I would do in that situation? Powerful moral questions are presented and, as much as you think you would do the "right thing," the author makes it clear that, in most cases, there is no one "right thing" that can be done. The ethical dilemmas are haunting for the reader and much more so for the actual climbers. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

The narrator also does a superb job, including spot on accents. Between the author's writing style and the narrator's accents, I had no trouble keeping the long list of characters straight, which is sometimes a challenge for me with audiobooks.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David
  • David
  • 01-11-10

Best recounting of the 2006 Everest season

After reading Jon Krakauer's classic account of the 1996 Everest climbing season, I was hooked on all things Everest.

After watching both seasons of Everest: Beyond the Limit, I wanted a book that would explore the tragedies of the 2006 season and I found it in Dark Summit.

The book is well-written and evenhanded; it gives coverage to ExplorersWeb and Russell Brice's point of view.

Someone looking for a straightforward recounting of this tragic season should seriously consider this book.

The narration by David Drummond is spot-on perfect. Great voice, great timing and consistent accents give voice to all the major players in the book.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tibbytabu
  • Tibbytabu
  • 07-07-11

A Changed Opinion

By the time of this writing, I can say that I have thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it. When I first began to listen, I was distracted by what I perceived as a mismatch between the styles of narration and text. The narrator enunciates each word clearly with what I would call 'brisk' emphasis on syllables and words. This style, when combined with the detailed information and factual background given by the author, gave me the sense that I was listening to a textbook. Thus, when the author used descriptive phrases, the use of adjectives seemed superfluous and 'flowery' when read in the brisk style of the narrator. In fact, I wasn't sure that I would continue to listen, as I had just spent new credits and was looking forward to new books. The longer I listened, however, the less distracted I was. I found myself engaged in the story, appreciating the talents of the narrator, particularly in the accents and voices he brought to the characters. I have since listened twice, and am glad that I did so. I believe that my initial reaction was simply due to the fact that the last few books to which I listened had narrators with different intonation and emphasis on words, and that I simply needed to relax and appreciate the unique talents of this narrator.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Megan
  • Megan
  • 19-07-15

Great book

Great detail the narrAtor was easy to listen to
As a non fiction. Book offered a neutral and detailed perspective

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amy F.
  • Amy F.
  • 27-12-18

No "Into Thin Air" but still worth the listen

While not a first-person account and less detailed than "Into Thin Air," it's still a good listen. There are quotes from those who were present, and viewers of the TV series "Everest" will recognize some key participants and scenes. The author does a nice job of describing and analyzing the challenges of the climb and the morality involved in certain decisions. Even if you are familiar with the events, there are still things to be learned from this book.

The narration is well done.

It isn't necessarily the best account of Everest expeditions or the deepest analysis of what motivated those involved to act as they did, but it was still enjoyable and worth the credit.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for David Kane
  • David Kane
  • 31-08-18

Great adventure!

I've always been drawn to stories of Everest and this one drew me in right away. This book covers the controversy of 2006 although as the author points out at the end it should not have been a controversy. News flash Everest is a very dangerous place. Trying to pin the blame on Russell Brice seems misplaced. Great book, great voice reading!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for DBo
  • DBo
  • 19-06-17

Must Read for Mountaineering Fans

This is my third mountaineering book. I can't put them down. I read this after reading Into Thin Air and The Climb. Although I liked The Climb the best (I.T.A. 2nd), this was still very enjoyable.