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Facing The Extreme: One Woman's Story Of True Courage And Death-Defying Survival In The Eye Of Mt. McKinley's Worst Storm Ever

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She stepped into a death zone. The climbers on Alaska's Mt. McKinley called her "the woman." Ruth Anne Kocour, a world-class mountaineer, wasn't bothered. It was part of the challenge she faced as she joined an all-male team to conquer North America's highest peak...the mountain the Indians called Denali, or God. Faced the extreme. But nine days into this ascent, a forty-fi She stepped into a death zone. The climbers on Alaska's Mt. McKinley called her "the woman." Ruth Anne Kocour, a world-class mountaineer, wasn't bothered. It was part of the challenge she faced as she joined an all-male team to conquer North America's highest peak...the mountain the Indians called Denali, or God. Faced the extreme. But nine days into this ascent, a forty-fifth birthday present to herself, the most violent weather on record slammed into the mountain. Ruth Anne and her group would be trapped on an ice shelf at 14,000 feet for the deadliest two weeks in Denali history. Pinned down by blinding snows, unable to help other teams dying around her, and her own feet freezing solid, Ruth Anne tells of a wind chill of minus 150 degrees, deadly hidden crevasses, and being trapped in a place so violent and unforgiving that it threatened to push her over the edge and into a place of no return. And yet, in prose as crystalline as the ice around her, she tells, too, of beauty, courage, and the spirit that drives true mountainers higher, as she risks all to go for the summit...and perhaps, for a transcendant moment, touch heaven. And lived to tell about it.


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She stepped into a death zone. The climbers on Alaska's Mt. McKinley called her "the woman." Ruth Anne Kocour, a world-class mountaineer, wasn't bothered. It was part of the challenge she faced as she joined an all-male team to conquer North America's highest peak...the mountain the Indians called Denali, or God. Faced the extreme. But nine days into this ascent, a forty-fi She stepped into a death zone. The climbers on Alaska's Mt. McKinley called her "the woman." Ruth Anne Kocour, a world-class mountaineer, wasn't bothered. It was part of the challenge she faced as she joined an all-male team to conquer North America's highest peak...the mountain the Indians called Denali, or God. Faced the extreme. But nine days into this ascent, a forty-fifth birthday present to herself, the most violent weather on record slammed into the mountain. Ruth Anne and her group would be trapped on an ice shelf at 14,000 feet for the deadliest two weeks in Denali history. Pinned down by blinding snows, unable to help other teams dying around her, and her own feet freezing solid, Ruth Anne tells of a wind chill of minus 150 degrees, deadly hidden crevasses, and being trapped in a place so violent and unforgiving that it threatened to push her over the edge and into a place of no return. And yet, in prose as crystalline as the ice around her, she tells, too, of beauty, courage, and the spirit that drives true mountainers higher, as she risks all to go for the summit...and perhaps, for a transcendant moment, touch heaven. And lived to tell about it.

30 review for Facing The Extreme: One Woman's Story Of True Courage And Death-Defying Survival In The Eye Of Mt. McKinley's Worst Storm Ever

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    One of several mountaineering books I read in the wake of Into Thin Air, and, I’m sorry to say, probably the worst. This is a woman’s account (somewhat rare) of climbing Denali, also known as Mt McKinley, the highest peak in North America (books on Denali are also less common, although there seem to be more to chose from now.) Kocour can be ungracious in the descriptions of her fellow climbers, indulges in some stereotyping of Korean climbers, and her prose can be klunky (on complimenting one of One of several mountaineering books I read in the wake of Into Thin Air, and, I’m sorry to say, probably the worst. This is a woman’s account (somewhat rare) of climbing Denali, also known as Mt McKinley, the highest peak in North America (books on Denali are also less common, although there seem to be more to chose from now.) Kocour can be ungracious in the descriptions of her fellow climbers, indulges in some stereotyping of Korean climbers, and her prose can be klunky (on complimenting one of her guides upon reaching the summit, she calls him "a tribute to his family's storied mountaineering history.") There are better climbing books out there, grasshopper.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amber Hayward

    Not all books about extreme adventure are as well-written as this one. It had the right balance of factual information and personal narrative. Kocour was generous in not revealing the identities of team mates and others on the mountain whose behaviour was less than could be desired, knowing that in life-threatening situations, many will act for their own benefit over the safety of others, and some behave abominably. However, true courage and selflessness was displayed by many, and Kocour celebra Not all books about extreme adventure are as well-written as this one. It had the right balance of factual information and personal narrative. Kocour was generous in not revealing the identities of team mates and others on the mountain whose behaviour was less than could be desired, knowing that in life-threatening situations, many will act for their own benefit over the safety of others, and some behave abominably. However, true courage and selflessness was displayed by many, and Kocour celebrates this, as well as her own personal drive to be and experience all that life offers.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I could never be a mountain climber. Full review: https://sarahsreads.home.blog/2019/04... I could never be a mountain climber. Full review: https://sarahsreads.home.blog/2019/04...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mazola1

    Ruth Anne Kocour tells the story of climbing Mount McKinley in a season in which 11 climbers died and she and her companions were trapped for days on end halfway up the mountain, unable to go up or down, in the middle of one of the worst storms to ever hit the mountain. Her book is beautifully written, and provides a vivid picture of what it's like to be trapped in a thin walled tent with 100 mile an hour winds threatening to tear it apart, and the temperature dozens of degrees below zero. Ms. K Ruth Anne Kocour tells the story of climbing Mount McKinley in a season in which 11 climbers died and she and her companions were trapped for days on end halfway up the mountain, unable to go up or down, in the middle of one of the worst storms to ever hit the mountain. Her book is beautifully written, and provides a vivid picture of what it's like to be trapped in a thin walled tent with 100 mile an hour winds threatening to tear it apart, and the temperature dozens of degrees below zero. Ms. Kocour is a driven but careful climber who explains what drives people to climb and how important the right temperment is. For her and her companions to survive the storm, and successfully summit, they needed patience, strength, resolve and the ability to indure lots of pain and boredom. Her observations about bodily functions, privacy, interpersonal conflicts, and the right and wrong stuff are informative, witty and wise. While this is an inspiring book, it sure didn't make me want to climb Mount McKinley!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Brigid

    Could have been an amazing story about strength, both physical and spiritual, but it wasn't. Instead, the author comments on some of her teammates' unpreparedness to climb Denali, as well as a lot of vitriol for other climbing teams on the mountain at the same time as her team. After finding out that her team was the last to make it out of base camp before another storm blew in, she says, "Had we been only an hour later, we would have been stuck,hunkered down for another week of misery without f Could have been an amazing story about strength, both physical and spiritual, but it wasn't. Instead, the author comments on some of her teammates' unpreparedness to climb Denali, as well as a lot of vitriol for other climbing teams on the mountain at the same time as her team. After finding out that her team was the last to make it out of base camp before another storm blew in, she says, "Had we been only an hour later, we would have been stuck,hunkered down for another week of misery without food." Incredibly, on the next page, she claims, "We'd done everything by the book and within the appropriate margin of safety." Along with having to ration their food on the way up (due to some thieving climber), they had along with them someone who'd never climbed anything except Disney's Matterhorn! And they found that out at Camp I! And they brought him along the whole way! If she'd heard that of another team, she would have shaken her head at their stupidity. It was nice to read how she and her tent-mate got along so well since it was crucial to their success and survival.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    This is the amazing story of a team of climbers who survived severe storms on Mt. McKinley. I do have some reflections on the book that could get a little preachy (be forewarned). I was thinking about the mentality it takes to be a mountain climber and whether mentally/relationally I could do it. In mountaineering it is, of course, very important to not make a mistake because any mistake could be deadly. That mentality also leads to intolerance of anyone else's mistakes, because one person's mis This is the amazing story of a team of climbers who survived severe storms on Mt. McKinley. I do have some reflections on the book that could get a little preachy (be forewarned). I was thinking about the mentality it takes to be a mountain climber and whether mentally/relationally I could do it. In mountaineering it is, of course, very important to not make a mistake because any mistake could be deadly. That mentality also leads to intolerance of anyone else's mistakes, because one person's mistake could put others in jeopardy in some way. Here is the preachy part: It reminded me of the way some people feel about their Christianity -- mistakes are not allowed. Also, some Christians are just as intolerant (grace-less) of the mistakes of others. I would like to think that I would have a hard time being so intolerant and grace-less toward others -- even in that situation. Of course, I will (probably)never be in that situation, but it does make me think!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jon Dickerson

    I loved this book. I like books that take me on an adventure and this womens story of "facing the extreme" and climbing Mt. McKinely. Her survival story is truely insipiring and anyone who likes a deep thrill should definetly read this book. After reading this book I wanted to go outside and climb. I also have to really admire this women for going out into a incredibly dangerous enviroment to climb this mountian. Even better she climed it in a season where 11 climbers died. This women is definte I loved this book. I like books that take me on an adventure and this womens story of "facing the extreme" and climbing Mt. McKinely. Her survival story is truely insipiring and anyone who likes a deep thrill should definetly read this book. After reading this book I wanted to go outside and climb. I also have to really admire this women for going out into a incredibly dangerous enviroment to climb this mountian. Even better she climed it in a season where 11 climbers died. This women is defintely a good rolemodel, and a great author.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I've read a lot of mountain-climbing memoirs. This one was good, but not great. A group of climbers in 1992 got pinned down on Mt. Denali in Alaska by the then-worst storm ever seen up there. A total of 11 climbers died on Denali that year ... a horrendous statistic and one of the worst seasons ever. The story she tells is pretty interesting, actually, but the writing wasn't great, and that detracted from enjoying this as much as I otherwise would have.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tinae Goodell

    This was a great book written by a women. Not a lot of mountaineers are women, or don't write about their experience. This mountain is the largest climb in Roth America. Very interesting to hear her side of climbing. The last cople of chapters not as exciting. She goes into a lot of terminology related to mountaineering which was nice to read. I liked a lot, just a little slow the last couple of chapters.

  10. 5 out of 5

    sylas

    This is the third book I read on my recent week-long vacation to Hawaii. It's also in the genre of my new obsession: devastating attempts to summit mountains. I'm too tired and jet lagged to put words to my interest in this topic. But I will say that I enjoyed this book. 3.5 stars. Thanks for the book gift, Gary.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I've read many books on this topic. I really liked the way that she told her story. It was a different account because many other stories like this would not go into depth and detail about specific time spent in the tent and in the camp.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    ned de ban van de berg

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marcia

    Ruth Anne is amazing! I can't even begin to imagine doing even one of the adventures she has done. I am on awe! This. Ook, although short, is riveting. I couldn't put it down.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    An exciting & thrilling read ... burrrr! An exciting & thrilling read ... burrrr!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dean

    This book made me feel like I was with them on the mountain. It had humor and also the stark reality of the dangers of being in horrible storm high up on the mountain.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Josh Collins

  17. 4 out of 5

    Faye

  18. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Brogdon

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

  21. 5 out of 5

    Helen Joy

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris Seals

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tracey Graves

  24. 4 out of 5

    Genie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ray Savarda

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charles Campbell

  27. 4 out of 5

    Connie

  28. 4 out of 5

    John

  29. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stacia

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