SAVAGE SUMMIT: The True Stories of the First Five Women Who Climbed K2, the World's Most Feared Mountain

Jennifer Jordan, Author
Jennifer Jordan, Author . Morrow $24.95 (303p) ISBN 978-0-06-058715-4
Reviewed on: 11/29/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005

Jordan scales a small summit of her own to share a posthumous glimpse of mountaineers Wanda Rutkiewicz, Liliane Barrard, Julie Tullis, Chantal Mauduit and Alison Hargreaves, plus others who accompanied, aided and tried to thwart them as they attempted to summit K2, which lies on the Pakistan-China border. Each woman's story explores her passion for mountaineering and her own brand of controversy: flirtation, reckless motherhood, lack of practice. Jordan, who tells each woman's tale in the order that each summited K2 (between 1986 and 1995), wisely gives much attention to Rutkiewicz, a beautiful yet willful pioneer who was the first to seek "challenges... that she had been told no woman could ever achieve." Jordan takes on a mammoth task—using journal entries, letters, published biographies, and interviews with fellow climbers, family and friends to distill five divergent lives into one narrative and using her imagination to fill in the blanks—and her prose at times is flat and repetitive. Readers are left with mini-biographies that don't have the dramatic detail to sweep the imagination like the bestseller that inspired Jordan, Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air . For mountain-climbing enthusiasts and women's history buffs, Jordan's well-researched survey is worthwhile reading for the famous reason mountaineers climb: because it's there. Photos. Agent, Jill Kneerim. (Jan.)

FYI: Jordan wrote a 2003 National Geographic documentary on this subject.