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The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship…

The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier

by Jim Davidson, Kevin Vaughan (Author)

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"The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier" by Jim Davidson and Kevin Vaughn is about Davidson's ascent of Washington's highest peak and a terrible fall into a crevasse, which cost his climbing partner his life.

Davidson's story is definitely compelling and his struggle to survive and climb an 80 foot vertical ice wall with limited tools, injuries and the knowledge he was leaving behind his deceased friend is nothing short of amazing. The book's strength really lies in his descriptions of his state of mind, both before and after the climb.

I found the writing to be a bit clunky, particularly in the first third of the book. The chapters really lacked transitions and jumped around a little too much for my liking. Overall, though, it's a solid and interesting story. ( )
  amerynth | Sep 11, 2013 |
Book Description

The Ledge tells the story of Jim Davidson and Mike Price’s ascent of Mt. Rainier and the accident that left them trapped 80 feet down a crevasse after a snow bridge collapsed (Price did not survive). The first part of the book sets the stage for the fall into the crevasse and provides background on Davidson and Price. We then move to the heart of the book, which is the ascent of Mt. Rainier (in which Davidson and Price tried a risky new ascent route) and the accident that takes place after they summit. As they are descending the mountain, Davidson stepped on a snow bridge that collapsed and plunged him and Price 80-feet into a crevasse. Landing on a small ledge (in what turns out to be a “one in a million” bit of luck), the fall, Price’s death, and Davidson’s extremely technical climb out of the crevasse with limited equipment and under extreme duress occupies about two-thirds of the narrative.

My Thoughts

The Ledge is a fine addition to the mountaineering/survival book canon. Written by Jim Davidson and his co-writer (journalist Kevin Vaughn), The Ledge provides a “you are there” feel that all the best adventure/survival books have. The writing and pacing is first-rate, and I found myself breathless and tense as Davidson dealt with Price’s death, his dawning realization that he had to climb or die, and his subsequent struggle to climb out of the crevasse.

Like all good survival books (such as Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air and Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm), The Ledge fills the reader with adrenaline, tension and fear. You really feel drawn into Davidson’s dilemma and struggle as he tries to keep himself together and attempt a climb that he feels is far beyond his capabilities. Davidson doesn’t hold anything back—sharing all his doubts, fears, grief, and despair as well as his strength, inspiration and will to live. I also found it interesting that one of the things that helped push Davidson to soldier on was his remembrance of another mountaineering survival book, Touching the Void by Joe Simpson (which details Simpson’s account of his near-death experience in the Peruvian Andes.)

The final part of the book deals with Davidson’s struggles to come to terms with the accident and Price’s death after his rescue. I was glad that Davidson included this in the book as I think it provides meaningful insights into grief, getting your life back on track after a major tragedy and a glimpse into the type of life that Davidson leads today (he is an inspirational speaker).

The only drawback might be some of the technical climbing terms and equipment that are referenced throughout the book. Although the authors do their best to explain everything in layman’s terms, I didn’t fully appreciate what Davidson managed to do as much as my brother (an experienced climber). However, I don’t think this should keep you from reading what is a very accessible book.

Recommended for: Fans of real-life survival stories, climbers and mountaineers (I gave my ARC to my brother, who ended up going out and buying his own copy so he could see all the photos) and readers who enjoy inspirational books that illustrate how people can dig deep and find hidden reserves of strength in times of great duress. ( )
  Jenners26 | Nov 10, 2011 |
“Resources in this world are not distributed evenly, especially the precious gift of time.”

When you take risks, the consequences can be horrible and deadly. If you don't take risks, the consequences will eventually be deadly anyway, it just may take longer. Jim Davidson and Mike Price, climbing buddies and friends, took the risks and Mike paid with his early death. Jim, given the situation he was in, should have died. He didn't. This story tells how the two men came to be stuck on a tiny snow ledge 80 feet down a crevasse, with unknown depths left to fall should the ledge break or they fall off.

This is a story that will appeal to climbers and us less brave souls, the armchair adventure voyeurs. It is more than a climbing story. It is about friendship, challenge, survival guilt. It is about doing the impossible when you know it is impossible but it is your only choice. And it is about how others view you when two people set out and only one comes back.

I learned about things I don't even want to contemplate, especially “corking,” a term new to me but one I'll never forget. Because I am not a climber (and, for the record, don't intend to become one), I had to pay close attention to the explanations of climbing and the equipment used, and the authors went to great lengths to help me understand. The bravery of the rangers and volunteers, people who are risking their own lives to save others, is inspiring. What courage that must take.

At the beginning of the book, there were too many time jumps for me to keep the time line straight. The writing was occasionally uneven, much better in some places than in others. I liked hearing about Mr. Davidson's early life, his summer jobs working with his dad, jobs that no sane person would undertake. I would have liked to know more about Mr. Price. Still, this was a fascinating story and a wonderful tribute from a climber to his friend and fellow climber.

(The quote at the top of this review is taken from an advance uncorrected proof given to me, and may have changed in the finished edition.) ( )
  TooBusyReading | Jul 7, 2011 |
I received this Advance Reader Copy free as a Good Reads First Read.

I am not athletic, although I love being in the outdoors, I choose the easy trails, and my only camping occurs in an RV at a campground. That being said, I admire those who push themselves to truly enjoy the real outdoors. I never understood why people rock climb or mountain climb, however this book gives me a glimpse of what goes through their mind. And it's not the trite expression "because it's there."

This book starts with Mike and Jim's beginnings in mountain climbing (Jim's more so than Mike's), and their training towards actually climbing Mount Rainier. This also explains their lives which makes them both more personable. Once they start up the mountain, it is very exhilarating and I am enjoying the climb as much as they are. After the fall, I am hoping there was a way both could emerge, but am rooting for Jim to hurry out of there.

While Jim was suffering survivor's guilt, I was too, in a way. I never left my arm chair and this guys were living and dieing an exciting life. I finally felt relieved of my guilt when Jim said "people kept saying he died doing what he loved, but I say he lived doing what he loved." And that is what we all need to do to make our lives complete.

This book is not Mike's story, nor is it Jim's story. It is Mike and Jim's story, because Mike is still intertwined in Jim's life and that friendship will never die. ( )
1 vote Barbara_Ell | Jul 2, 2011 |
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Jim Davidsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Vaughan, KevinAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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"In June 1992, best friends Jim Davidson and Mike Price stood triumphantly atop Washington's Mount Rainier, celebrating what they hoped would be the first of many milestones in their lives as passionate young mountaineers. Instead, their conquest gave way to catastrophe when a cave-in plunged them deep inside a glacial crevasse--the pitch-black, ice-walled hell that every climber's nightmares are made of. At once a heart-stopping adventure story, a heartfelt memoir of friendship, and a stirring meditation on fleeting mortality and immutable nature, The Ledge chronicles one man's transforming odyssey from the dizzying heights of elation and awe to the punishing depths of grief and hard-won wisdom. This book's visceral, lyrical prose sings the praises of the physical world's wonders, while searching the souls of those willing, for better or worse, to fully embrace it."--from publisher's description.… (more)

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