1. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. If you must read one off this list, you might as well read this one. It is the most well known, and possibly the most controversial book. Recently the author admitted that he should never have attempted to climb Mt Everest as he has suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder since the 1996 events. Jon was a client on the Adventure Consultants team.
2. The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev. After reading Into Thin Air, your next book should be The Climb. This version of the account attempts to address some of the issues and finger pointing that was instigated in Into Thin Air. Unfortunately, the author Anatoli Boukreev was killed in a avalanche a year and a half after the 1996 disaster. He was guiding for Mountain Madness on Everest in 1996.
3. High Exposure by David Brashears. David is a high altitude climber and filmmaker and was on Everest in 1996 guiding and working on an IMAX film on Everest. His team was on a slightly different timeline than other expeditions and ended up playing a major part in the rescue effort from the mid to lower levels of the mountain. David's account is worth reading as the events unfolded he made some astute observations.
4. Left for Dead by Beck Weathers. A client on the Adventure Consultants team, Beck attempted Everest and had some major medical complications, leaving him stranded for hours at 27,000 feet during that ill fated storm. This survivor's story is another must read.
5. Climbing High by Lene Gammelgard. Lene was a client on the Mountain Madness team. She was the first person to pen her account of the events but I read this book last in my order. She has one of the best level-headed accounts of the tragedy as other accounts may have been skewed by different levels of altitude sickness.
6. Within Reach-My Everest Story by Mark Pfetzer and Jack Galvin. Mark Pfetzer was a 16 year old in 1996 and was at Camp 4 when the storm hit. His teenage account from Camp 4, the aftermath, and his own plans having to be abandoned is another good read.
7. Dead Lucky by Lincoln Hall. Ten years after the 1996 disaster, Australian climber Lincoln Hall attemped Everest from the North (Tibetan) side and suffered a epic survival story of his own. News of his death spread all over the world but that was based on an assumption; the underestimation of the will to live. Lincoln's tale of survival is almost unfathomable. A book that is hard to put down.
8. No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Veisturs. This is Ed's account of his journey to summit all 14 of the 8000m+ peaks in the world without supplemental oxygen. He was on the Everest IMAX expedition in 1996 and has summited Everest 7 times. I really enjoyed reading about how this mountaineer makes smart decisions at altitude.
9. Touching My Father's Soul by Jamling Tenzing Norgay, Broughton Coburn, and Jon Krakauer. Jamling was a climber on 1996 IMAX expedition. He offers his story of the events tied in with reflecting on his father Tenzing's journey with Sir Edmund Hillary in the first ascent of Everest in 1953. A very cool book from the Sherpa's perspective from that timeframe.
10. Dark Summit by Nick Heil. 2006 was a deadly year (11 deaths, 1 less than 1996) on Everest and this book attempts to explain the deadly circus that is Everest and why commercial expeditions can be risky business. The question: Why do climbers climb Everest? is attempted to be answered in this book.
Many of these selections I haven't laid eyes on in over a decade but some part of the story has stayed with me over the years and that's why I feel the list above is a worthy one.
Unfortunately the two worst years in Everest history have occured in 2014 (16 deaths) and 2015 (18 deaths) and I'm sure there will be some interesting literature published surrounding those horrific natural disasters in the coming years.
I follow coverage of the spring expeditions every year via Alan Arnette's blog that is a comprehensive overview of the expedition teams on the mountain each spring as well as insight into mountaineer's routines and Everest culture. Excellent blog from an experienced mountaineer.
So the big question is: Will I go see Everest in the theatre?! YES! Of course I will! It will be another interesting version of the accounts from 1996. I hope the acting is good and the scenery is even better.
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on my Top 10 Mountaineering books from other mountains. Happy reading!