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‘Buried in the Sky’ sheds new light on K2′s deadliest day

by Lorien Nettleton ~ July 31st, 2012

A tragedy that struck the worlds second highest mountain in 2008 killed eleven mountaineers in 28 hours. It was the deadliest single event on K2. The event made international headlines, and amid the chaos and the media aftermath, stories of those who survived began to emerge, some stories were overlooked.

Now, in their new book, “Buried in the Sky,” authors Peter Zuckerman and Amanda Padoan uncover stories of survival on K2′s deadliest day that had not been widely told: the stories of the indigenous climbers and porters from Tibet and Nepal who witnessed the events.Author Amanda Padoan and Nepalese High Altitude climber Chrring Dorje Sherpa from the Rohaling Valley in Nepal were at the Talkeetna Library Tuesday evening to talk about Himalayan climbing culture and an heroic rescue that Chrring performed high on K2 which, until now, had been overlooked.

Padoan’s close friend Karim Merherban was a Pakistani High Altitude Porter on the mountain that day. Merherban was among those who lost their lives to falling ice and snow. Padoan wanted to learn more about how the tragedy unfolded for her friend, but was unable to learn more because much of the media was focused on the western mountaineers.

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As she continued to dig for information, Padoan made several trips to Nepal. Through her conversations with climbers from around the world, she was able to reconstruct the events that happened and learn more stories that hadn’t been told, including confirmation of a final rescue performed by an Irish Climber well known in Alaska as a capable mountaineer, Gerard McDonnell.

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McDonnell also lost his life that day, but through photographs from the event, Padoan says one can see McDonnell assisting climbers high on the mountain who were tangled by their ropes during the event.

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In addition to documenting the biggest tragedy on the slopes of K2, Buried in the Sky also give a historical reflection of the Himilayan climbing culture, documenting the anonymous workers who do the heavy lifting, carrying the expeditions’ supplies while the name-brand explorers take the glory on the summit.

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