cover image After the Wind: 1996 Everest Tragedy— One Survivor’s Story

After the Wind: 1996 Everest Tragedy— One Survivor’s Story

Lou Kasischke. Good Hart, $25 (328p) ISBN 978-1-940877-00-6

Kasischke, a former lawyer and avid mountain climber, adds to the extensive documentation of the 1996 Mt. Everest tragedy, in which eight people perished while attempting to summit the highest mountain on Earth, with this firsthand account. He describes his personal struggle to make the grueling climb, his emotional turmoil as circumstances turned hazardous and then fatal, and his brush with death on the terrifying descent. His narrative is stark and accessible, bringing the mountaineer’s journey to life in accessible language, though the internal monologue veers toward self-indulgent reflection and recriminations. In many ways, Kasischke’s story is a response to more famous retellings, like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, which assigns blame to expedition leader Rob Hall, who didn’t make it home. “It was a story about poor judgment,” Kasischke writes, recalling that the initial ascension plan wasn’t followed. “It seems hard to believe that such experienced climbers were so muddled about what to do. If [the plan had been followed], there would have been no tragedy.” Regardless of why the tragedy occurred, Kasischke’s account provides an eye-opening look at the perils and extreme conditions on Everest. Evocative illustrations by Jane Cardinal further enhance the text, and include maps and time lines. (BookLife)