At 8:00 a.m. on May 29, 1999, Cathy O'Dowd, a 30-year-old mountaineer from South Africa, stepped onto the summit of Everest and into history. She had become the first woman to climb the highest mountain in the world from both its south (Edmund Hillary) and north (George Mallory) sides. To achieve this, Cathy has had to face the ultimate risks of Everest.
During her first ascent from the south in 1996, she and her team were trapped in the killer storm described in Jon Krakauer's best seller Into Thin Air. They finally reached the summit, only to have the thrill of success snatched away when a team member disappeared on the descent. In 1998, Cathy, attempting the north side of Everest, stopped only a few hundred meters from the summit to try and help a dying American climber. The woman's first words were "don't leave me". Yet Cathy eventually had to leave her to save her own life.
Now Cathy has captured the drama of her Everest climbs, her passion for the challenge of climbing mountains, and her love for wild places in this story of her four attempts on the mountain. Cathy tries to answer the question of why, if climbing Everest can be so dangerous, people still want to do it.
This is a book of challenge, adventure, love, and life and death. This is about Everest, the world's highest mountain, climbed "just for the love of it".
©1999 Cathy O'Dowd (P)2015 Crux Publishing
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"Strong story, even better storytelling"
O'Dowd's writing generally has an effective balance of technical information about mountaineering and more personal observations about her ambitions and relationships - both of which Zimmerman brings to life with her narration. If I had been reading this book, I might have gotten bogged down in the technical details of the climb that I couldn't see, but Zimmerman's energy and pace make it a fascinating story to listen to. It's exactly what I like in an audiobook - getting to enjoy a story I would have otherwise missed!
"If you love adventure books, you will love it"
I liked Cathy O'Dowd's honesty about her perceptions, even when she was grumpy or angry, she was honest about it. I've never mountain climbed but I can imagine it's not all sunshine and roses, there are many challenges and it would take a toll. I very much enjoyed hearing a woman's story. I love books about Everest and K-2 but so few are written by women. She also tells her perception from a completely different vantage point about the 1996 Everest disaster. I've been fascinated by these events and based upon the extreme conditions and effect on one's cognitive abilities, what really happened remains a mystery. For those of us who have never climbed a mountain, it's truly hard to envision the conditions and how someone can be healthy and energetic at the peak and die a short time later. She does a good job of telling what she knows about this and helping the listener to understand the extreme conditions. It was exciting and I loved listening on my long runs or commute to work.
I love that the author was a woman, there are not many extreme adventure books written by women and it offers a completely different perspective.
The moment that I knew she was going to lose someone in her group and what she was going through.
If you love books about extreme mountain climbing, this is a good one. Not only does she talk about the 1996 Everest disaster but that is only a small part of the book. She goes on to talk about other climbs, both successful and unsuccessful where they had to turn back.
"A truly fascinating and enjoyable listen"
No but only because I loved every second of it the first time and listened intently.
Into Thin Air but less sensationalistic
Her tone of straightforward description but also her subtle changes of character for different people really brought it to life.
Spoiler alert! At one point Cathy meets someone who is dying on the mountain. Even though it is obvious the woman won't survive, Cathy decides to leave her own ambitions to climb Everest again. There is no ego involved. She just does a human thing.
This is a fascinating account by a woman who pulls no punches about her experiences and the people she encountered along the way. And it is brought very fully to life by the narrator. I bought this because I have enjoyed the narrator in other books, but completely different books, and I'm glad I did.
"Can't put it down!"
Cathy O'Dowd, a South African Mountaineer, opens this book with how she got into high altitude climbing and her first Everest expedition which took place in the notorious 1996 climbing season, the deadliest on record. The first section of this book is downright addictive. It's the kind of book that makes you want to go take a walk or a long drive just to listen to it. O'Dowd wrote great descriptions of climbing and surviving in high altitude. She also wrote candidly of the personal dynamics that occur on a large expedition and the tough moral issues every climber must face. She had a clear voice and an incredible story to tell: attempting to climb all three of Everest's faces, wow! This is a great read, makes me want to climb a mountain! If you love stories about big mountain climbing don't miss this one.
"Purely personal story"
This book is purely a personal story of one woman's climbing trips. It does not claim to be anything else. As such I still found it interesting, at least for the reason as she provides so much detail about the small things of the trips. The type of detail you would not get from other authors. This was a refreshing change from some authors who throw in the entire history of the mountain and relegate their own story to second place. This book also contains little to zero back story about the author. It does not have chapters and chapters of boring back story. It gets to the good stuff and stays there.
I found her descriptions of climbing the north side of Everest to be quite thrilling. In such detail too! I now think it would be absolutely frightening to climb the north side at all.
"This book does get bogged down in petty squabbles but if you can get past that it is an enjoyable read."
Cathy, Does have a hard time concealing her disdain for the male, but it only shows through in a few places. The petty squabbles and politics of the people who climb mountains is an interesting topic of conversation.
"Good insightful perspective "
I like the detailed word pictures of the climbs ND the honest reflections of the challenges.
"Moderately interesting writing, underwhelming performance"
Rather average book, compared to the other available offerings on mountaineering and Everest. I didn't learn anything new, and found the author a little annoying at times.
The British reader has a voice and intonation much better suited to Jane Austen novels, and much less so to an autobiography of a South African mountain climber. Good reader (though there were a few misread words), but wrong book for her.
"Nice narration...poor story"
The narrator seemed to do the best she could with the material she had but apart from re-writing much of the book it would be difficult to make it a 4 or 5 star experience.
The author described, in nauseating detail, all the petty bickering that went on with some of the climbing team members throughout much of the book; it read more like the ramblings of a high school kid on facebook lamenting over the politics of teen hood. She would do well to read a well-written climbing novel like the "White Spider", and learn to emulate a similar writing style before attempting another book.
Absolutely! Great reading voice and lovely accent. Excellent tone and inflection, and did not attempt any goofy voices.
"Not just for climbers"
A fascinating view of what makes people challenge themselves Cathy on Everest but it might be someone challenging themselves to get fitter or anything else. Cathy writes in a nicely paced style with witty asides and also thrilling details of her climbing life all over the world but mainly in the Himalaya. I was a rock climber before disability stopped that and her descriptive writing reminded me of why I used to do it and the thrills and excitement of climbing.
The narration is nicely done my openly slight criticism is I kept trying to change Stevies accent into a South African one but her style is fresh and with enough enthusiasm in her voice to express the story really well.
All in all a great listen.
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