A Day to Die For

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 March, 2011, 12:00am

A Day to Die For
by Graham Ratcliffe
Mainstream Publishing, HK$204

Millions of people have read Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, about his 1996 Everest ascent in which eight climbers were killed by 'a rogue storm that blew in without warning'. Groups led by Rob Hall, Scott Fischer and others were trying to reach the peak on May 10, the day before the planned summit of Graham Ratcliffe's group, which at the time of the storm was sheltering at the final camp for those climbing from Nepal's southeast ridge - and could have helped saved lives had they known what was happening. A Day to Die For is Ratcliffe's revelation that Hall and Fischer knew bad weather was predicted - a point he spent years trying to verify. It was only when the book was nearing completion that he received proof daily forecasts were being transmitted, including warnings of a storm. Ratcliffe, like Krakauer, surmises competition between Hall and Fischer - who were leading high-paying customers - would have led to rash decisions. But he never discovers why Into Thin Air glosses over something as crucial as the weather, as does the Imax film, Everest. The worst disaster in the mountain's history may spawn yet another book.