Danger permeates the thin air of the high Karakoram peaks-whether from a slip at 28,000 feet or a bullet from anyplace else. - A memoir of adventure in one of the most dangerous places on the planet - The Karakoram is home to K2, the deadliest of the world's 8,000-meter peaks - The region's political restiveness, a constant challenge for adventurers exploring this mountain range, remains an ongoing global news topic
Karakoram is world-class alpinist Steve Swenson's personal story of climbing K2 and other peaks in the Karakoram Range that straddles the borders of China, India, and Pakistan-a story told against the backdrop of extreme altitude and conflict between these nations for control of Kashmir. Love of climbing mountains has lead Swenson to the summits of some of the highest and most dangerous peaks in the world. But over the years, he developed a deep respect for the rugged landscapes and local people found the remote Karakoram Range in South Asia. Readers join him on the trail for numerous attempts on these 8000-meter peaks, getting an intimate look at everything from expedition dynamics among his various climbing partners to the logistics of trip planning. Especially rewarding is the fond relationship that develops between Swenson and Rasool, one of the Balti porters that he becomes close to. After 9/11, however, security and access became an issue for foreigners in Pakistan. The Taliban, along with al Qaeda, migrated into the mountainous cover of the Karakoram, taking control of key transportation routes used by climbers and trekkers. Western adventurers were largely able to avoid the political violence until June 2013, when a group of terrorists hiked up to the basecamp at Nanga Parbat and murdered 11 climbers. Swenson explores the origins of this attack and the impact it's had on his travels in the region, and on his friends there who depend on income from tourism. Karakoram is the story of high atmosphere adventures within the context of a complex region, where good people bond and bad people wreak havoc. It's the story of caring about a place, its people, and its future.
Steve Swenson has been climbing for 45 years. He has made solo ascents of K2 and Everest-both without supplementary oxygen. In 2012 he and his partners made the first ascent of Sasser Kangri II (7518 meters), the second highest unclimbed mountain in the world, a feat for which they were awarded the prestigious Piolet d'Or. Swenson is a past president of the American Alpine Club and has written articles for the American Alpine Journal, as well as for Climbing, Rock & Ice, and Alpinist magazines. He and his wife, Ann Dalton, divide their time between Seattle and Canmore, Alberta, Canada. Learn more at steveswensonsblog.blogspot.com.