Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day    

Book Reviewed: Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day

Authors: Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan

Publisher:  w. w. Norton & Company, Inc. New York

Copyright Date: 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-07988-3

eBook: Kindle Version

Reviewed by: Yackman


Yackman’s Rating: 9 points out of 10


Review: This is the second book I have read on the disaster that killed eleven climbers on K2, in August 2008.  K2 is the second highest mountain in the world and is considered the most difficult to climb, much more difficult than the better known Everest.   In No Way Down, author Graham Bowley describes the events of those fateful three days in graphic, almost horrific detail, from the expedition climber’s point of view. 

However, there were others on the mountain in August 2008; the high altitude Sherpa guides and porters who carried the gear and went ahead to establish camps and set safety lines, and were sent out to rescue climbers in distress on the mountain.  These are the unseen and unknown heroes of every high altitude climb in the Himalayan Mountains.  Buried in the Sky is their story. 

The authors of Buried in the Sky also detail the disasters and deaths that happen on the mountain, but they do it in much less graphic detail.  They spend as much time on the history and culture of the people of the region.  They help us know the Sherpas and their families.  They help us understand the economic forces that drive these men to risk their lives over and over again helping foreign climbers pursue their dreams.  Through Buried In the Sky we know these high altitude workers by name.  We learn the details of their lives before, during and after this singular event.

We also learn more about the foreign climbers and that heroes came from both groups.  We learn that there were many languages being spoken on the mountain that summer, and that climbing teams that were expected to work together could not communicate with each other.  They were dependent for communication and coordination on a single Sherpa whose critical illness sent him off the mountain.  This was the one unplanned event that set off the series of errors and delays that lead to the disaster. 

Available from Amazon

No Way Down: Life and Death on K2

No Way Down: Life and Death on K2

Graham Bowley

You can order these books here.

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Buried In the Sky is really a great book, filled with relevant human background detail that enriches the totality of the story.  It is certainly the better of the two books on the K2 disaster and fills a void left by No Way Down; the story of the Sherpas, the other, shadow group on the mountain that summer.   By reading them both you get an excellent picture of what happened on K2 on those fateful days in August 2008. 


 © Don Yackel 2020