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High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed (edition 2008)

by Michael Kodas

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1831764,645 (3.58)5
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Title:High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed
Authors:Michael Kodas
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High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed by Michael Kodas

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This was my first book about Everest and was quite illuminating--I would definitely recommend that anyone seriously considering climbing the mountain read this book first to know what to watch out for! Kodas relates all kinds of reprehensible human behavior taking place around the mountain, much of it tragically leading to the loss of human life: guides misrepresenting their level of experience, people selling faulty equipment, rampant theft even high up on the mountain, and even guides completely abandoning their clients in some of the most perilous conditions on Earth. Kodas himself was part of an expedition that went sour, but the book is at its best when he's relating stories he wasn't immediately involved in (the parts about his own story often feel uncomfortably like being involved in a personal feud in which not all the parties have a chance to defend themselves). This isn't a book to read if you're primarily interested in the beauty of Everest or want triumphant stories about human perseverance and accomplishment, but it was interesting throughout and has definitely made me want to learn more about Everest and mountaineering. ( )
  mrlzbth | Feb 6, 2014 |
In 2004, journalist Michael Kodas joined local mountain climbers from home on an expedition to Mount Everest. He anticipated an exhilarating and arduous adventure among a group of like-minded idealists that he could report to his readers back in Connecticut. But on the Himalayan mountain, he discovered thieves, prostitutes, con men, and blackmailers. There were people who would do anything for a quick buck, or a guarantee of reaching the top. And some of them were on his own team.

Thieves stole equipment on which the team's lives depended, Kodas's life was threatened by one of his teammates, and a climbing partner was beaten unconscious by another in Base Camp. He returned from the Himalaya disillusioned. But a plea for help from the daughter of a mountaineer who vanished on Everest on the very day that Kodas had retreated from his own disintegrating team prompted him to return to Everest and uncover an underworld that preys on unsuspecting climbers on major peaks around the world.

High Crimes is a shocking expose of the dark underside of Everest: people stepping over dying climbers on their way up; unscrupulous con men who sell faulty oxygen tanks that leave climbers without air when their lives depend on it; drugs and prostitution in Base Camp; and people all but murdered in the cutthroat race to get to the top. Illustrated with incredible photographs and written with thriller-like pacing, High Crimes is a gripping and fascinating story.


If summiting Everest is on your list of "100 Things to do Before I Die" you should read this compelling if somewhat disheartening look at the dark side of climbing the world's tallest mountain.

High Crimes explores the corruption of one of the purest places on earth, Mount Everest, and the author doesn’t pull any punches pointing the finger and naming names of those who indulge in dishonest and outright criminal behaviour putting others’ lives at risk….and worse.

The author compares Everest Base Camp to a Wild West boomtown… with no sheriff.

He is especially critical of the Everest peak baggers who pay thousands of dollars to unscrupulous commercial operators to be dragged to the top and back down again (if they are lucky), "climbers" who have as much business being on the mountain as I do.

The structure of the novel is a little distracting, as the author tells his own summit attempted with the wife beating climbing team from Hell and the heart-breaking story of Dr. Nils Antezana, both threads running through the book pulling it all together.


Fascinating stuff
( )
  jan.fleming | Jan 31, 2014 |
4.5 stars

Journalist Michael Kodas takes a look at how busy Everest is and the issues that have happened due to its popularity. Primarily, he is looking at the fraud and theft that happens there (plus more). The consequences of fraud and theft at Everest, though, versus anywhere else, can turn deadly.

Kodas climbed Everest in 2004 with a neighbour, George, their wives, and a few other people. Things turned sour very quickly. So, he describes his own experiences with that group, as well as recounting 69-year old Nils Antezana's death on Everest, at the same time as Kodas and his group were there, but Antezana, his guide and two Sherpas were climbing the other side of Everest.

Wow! This was very good. Kodas, being a journalist, is a good writer, and I just wanted to keep reading. I didn't want to put the book down. Nothing's going to live up to Into Thin Air for me, but this comes close. It does jump around in place and time; however, I was still able to follow. There are lots of people involved and lots of stories, but I think that actually helped me figure out time/place, as Kodas focused on the two main stories and added in a few others here and there, but always came back to the main stories. For anyone with an interest in Everest, this is definitely worth the read! ( )
  LibraryCin | Jan 24, 2014 |
It was really hard to decide whether I liked Michael Kodas' "High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed" or not. Ultimately, I found the book's problems detracted from my enjoyment of it.

On the good side, I found Kodas' expedition stories to be interesting and chock-full of good tidbits. The death of Nils Antezana seems particularly tragic and a good illustration of what summit fever can bring.

That said, I found the transitions between stories to be really jarring... I really disliked Kodas' style of introducing a new character, then giving that person's history from A to Z, then return to his story. The book jumped too much and Kodas' premise got lost someplace along the way. The final chapters seemed rushed and tacked on.

The book also left me wondering how prevalent theft on Everest really is. Kodas makes it sound as that tents need to be padlocked or something to prevent people from stealing your gear, oxygen and food. I've read lots of Everest expedition stories... and have never seen theft mentioned as a constant problem previously (though I have read about camps being stripped by Sherpas who thought hikers had died or because of friction between expedition leaders.)

Overall, I found the book interesting, I guess, but it doesn't stand up to all of the great expedition memoirs out there. ( )
  amerynth | Oct 29, 2013 |
Mt. Everest has become a vast garbage dump. Persons of all persuasions, limitations (be the first without oxygen), handicaps (be the first asthmatic), ages (be the first over 70), and genders (the first transsexual – just kidding, at least so far) – if they have the funds – can pay an outfitter to get them to the summit. Some outfitters are better – and more reliable and honest – than others. Some steal supplies, others try to make it on the cheap. Base camps are now filled with prostitutes and hustlers, trash is everywhere (including bodies on the way up.) Aside from the fact that only an idiot would want to face the hazards and hardship of preparing for, and then climbing the mountain, which I do not need to remind anyone, has already been surmounted numerous times, it kills people. The base camps are virtually lawless and Kathmandu resembles nothing more than a shanty town.

Kordas follows the climbs of two parties. One, led by an unscruplous guide, is fraught with difficulty and leaves a member, a Bolivian doctor, to die. His own party bickers and becomes downright nasty. Sure is fun to read about though. Best on a summer day when the temperature is over 90.

By the way, the TV series on climbing the mountain, Everest: Beyond the Limit, is outstanding. You can get it cheaply through iTunes. My hat is off to the cameramen, who not only had to climb the mountain, but lug the frigging camera along with them.

Other titles to read with this one:

[b:Into Thin Air A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster|1898|Into Thin Air A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster|Jon Krakauer|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1158966247s/1898.jpg|1816662]

[b:Dark Summit The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season|2841802|Dark Summit The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season|Nick Heil|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/416L1IhMbqL._SL75_.jpg|2867915] ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
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Much has changed on Mount Everest in recent years. This is the first book to detail how the recent infusion of wealth into the mountains is reacting with the age-old lust for glory to draw crime to the highest places on the planet, and how a mountain's ability to reduce climbers to their essential selves is revealing villains as well as heroes, greed as well as selflessness. The change is caused both by a tremendous boom in traffic to the world's mountains and a new class of parasitic and predatory adventurer. Beatings, thefts, drugs, prostitution, coercion, threats, and abandonment on the highest slopes of Everest and other mountains have become the rule rather than the exception, and journalist Kodas describes many of these experiences and explores the larger issues they raise with thriller-like intensity.--From publisher description.… (more)

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