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Dead Lucky: Life after Death on Mount Everest (2007)

by Lincoln Hall

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1657128,558 (3.72)1
'A gripping, almost unbelievable story of survival that offers insight into a largely misunderstood domain.' The Sun Herald Lincoln Hall set off for Everest in early May 2006. Five weeks after reaching Base Camp in Tibet, he began his push for the summit. After three days of climbing higher into the oxygenless air, he was blessed with a perfect summit day. For a few minutes, Hall was the highest man on the planet. His Sherpa companions arrived, photos were taken, and the climbers commenced their long descent. Then things began to go horribly wrong. Hall was struck by cerebral oedema - high-altitude sickness - in the aptly named 'death zone'. Drowsiness quickly became overpowering lethargy, and he collapsed in the snow. Two Sherpas spent hours trying to revive him, but as darkness fell he was pronounced dead. The expedition's leader ordered the Sherpas to descend to save themselves. The news of Hall's death travelled rapidly from mountaineering websites to news media around the world, and by satellite phone to Hall's family in Australia. Early the next day, Dan Mazur, an American mountaineering guide with two clients and a Sherpa, was startled to find Hall sitting cross-legged on the knife-edged crest of the summit ridge. Hall's first words - 'I imagine you are surprised to see me here' - were a massive understatement. Much was reported in the press about Hall's resurrection, but only he has real insight into what happened, and how he survived that longest night. Dead Lucky is Lincoln Hall's own account of climbing Everest during a deadly season in which eleven people perished on the world's highest mountain.… (more)
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I am prompted to go back to this book, thinking of the recent death of Lincoln Hall. The newspapers, as best I recollect, managed to resist the temptation to headline ¨No, really.¨ But it´s true, asbestos claimed him earlier this year, sitting dormant in his lungs all that while. Mountaineering is one of my interests - reading about it anyhow. I was already following the stories from Everest when Lincoln Hall did the most unusual thing possible in the circumstances, that is to say (like the fictional boy), he lived - surviving a night exposed on the mountain at 8600m.

Following the story then, and reading Lincoln´s account of it some time later it seemed to me that the most interesting people in the story were Dan Mazur (whose team found Lincoln and then gave up their summit attempt to stay with him until help arrived) and Lincoln´s wife. Lincoln himself comes across as very normal. A regular guy with a hobby, who might not have attracted so much attention, but for that time when he was hallucinating that he was sitting in a boat while actually half naked 5 miles up and inches from a ten thousand foot drop.

For those with an interest in Himalayan mountaineering this book is a good read, for anyone interested in high altitude survival it´s a must read. But for those that are looking for inspirational mountaineering stories I´d recommend starting somewhere else, and perhaps come back to this later - because oddly enough, the more you know about Everest the more extraordinary the story of Lincoln´s survival becomes. ( )
  nandadevi | Apr 13, 2012 |
A very detailed and personal account of surviving the impossible. ( )
  PAFCWoody | Mar 17, 2010 |
A fascinating and personal account by Lincoln Hall of the events on Everest in May 2006. I particularly liked how Hall tries to show the non-climber how being in the Death Zone confuses the mind and the body. He also tries to put the controversial death of David Sharp into context with his own survival against the odds, which leads to an exploration of how he feels that Tibetan Buddhist meditation techniques may have contributed to his survival of a night at 8,600 metres. He is changed by all of his experiences, as he comments, 'My scrape with death had shaken me free of some of those restrictions. I now find myself in a space where judgements are fewer, where habits don't seem as necessary.' ( )
  riverwillow | Jun 12, 2009 |
While this author's story is compelling, I found his telling of it lacking.

For someone who admits that he was in and out of hallucinations, it is odd how he claims to just "know" that certain events definitely occurred. Many of his claims (especially regarding disturbing claims of getting beaten by Sherpas) go unsubstantiated by any third party in the book. One of his claims concerning what appears to be a self-diagnosis of cerebral edema is an outright contradiction to his own statements earlier in the book about that same condition.

Had the author interspersed quotes/transcripts of actual interviews with the other climbers and the Sherpas involved to substantiate some things and give us more perspectives, I think I would have enjoyed it more. Instead, I found his tone through most of the story to be, "it happened this way because I remember it happened this way."

I felt sorry for the Sherpas, who are the REAL heroes of this story. Many of them risked their lives, and had to be absolutely aggravated and at their wit's end with the situation. I also felt that the climbers who found the author and gave up their chance to summit were real heroes. It would have been refreshing if this book had been written reflecting their perspectives...describing the personal anguish of giving up a summit bid; discussing what goes through the Sherpas' heads when they are dealing with a climber who is physically collapsing and making poor decisions; etc.

Like another reviewer, I, too, tried to like this book, and kind of feel badly about not liking it more. However, there are much better books of Everest survival stories out there. ( )
2 vote nancnn2 | Mar 31, 2009 |
Exciting read
  sparkymonakate | Oct 20, 2008 |
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To my family, Barbara, Dylan, Dorje, Al, Julia and Michele
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A deep rumble shattered the peace of the mountainscape - the familiar, gut-wrenching roar of an avalanche.
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'A gripping, almost unbelievable story of survival that offers insight into a largely misunderstood domain.' The Sun Herald Lincoln Hall set off for Everest in early May 2006. Five weeks after reaching Base Camp in Tibet, he began his push for the summit. After three days of climbing higher into the oxygenless air, he was blessed with a perfect summit day. For a few minutes, Hall was the highest man on the planet. His Sherpa companions arrived, photos were taken, and the climbers commenced their long descent. Then things began to go horribly wrong. Hall was struck by cerebral oedema - high-altitude sickness - in the aptly named 'death zone'. Drowsiness quickly became overpowering lethargy, and he collapsed in the snow. Two Sherpas spent hours trying to revive him, but as darkness fell he was pronounced dead. The expedition's leader ordered the Sherpas to descend to save themselves. The news of Hall's death travelled rapidly from mountaineering websites to news media around the world, and by satellite phone to Hall's family in Australia. Early the next day, Dan Mazur, an American mountaineering guide with two clients and a Sherpa, was startled to find Hall sitting cross-legged on the knife-edged crest of the summit ridge. Hall's first words - 'I imagine you are surprised to see me here' - were a massive understatement. Much was reported in the press about Hall's resurrection, but only he has real insight into what happened, and how he survived that longest night. Dead Lucky is Lincoln Hall's own account of climbing Everest during a deadly season in which eleven people perished on the world's highest mountain.

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