In Savage Summit, Jennifer Jordan tells the story of the first five women to summit K2, the second highest mountain in the world at 28251′ tall, and one of the deadliest mountains to climb with one in four people who attempt to summit dying. The first five women to summit are no longer living. Three died on the descent, and two died later on other 8000 meter peaks. A sixth woman had successfully summited and descended K2 when this book went to print in 2004, and I can see that a few others have summited since then and appear to still be alive.
The biographies of each of these women show very different personalities and paths to climbing, but they all shared an obsession with K2. The information was put together from the women’s personal journals and letters, and from interviews with family members, friends, and climbing partners. Causes of death range from falls to avalanches to extended exposure to the Death Zone, the area above 8000 meters at which there is not enough oxygen to sustain life and the body simply breaks down. I can’t see myself ever wanting to venture that high, or having the necessary experience to even be able to do so, but it’s still fascinating to see who is driven to climb such a mountain and why.