The Ledge: An Inspirational Story of Friendship and Survival

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9780345523204: The Ledge: An Inspirational Story of Friendship and Survival

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER · “The authors bring extreme climbing to life. . . . Perhaps no author can rationalize why some choose to risk their lives . . . for the thrill of conquering a mountain. The Ledge comes perilously close and tells a ripping true story at the same time.”—The Denver Post
 
In June 1992, best friends Jim Davidson and Mike Price stood atop Washington’s Mount Rainier, celebrating what they hoped would be the first of many milestones in their lives as passionate mountaineers. Then their triumph turned tragic when a cave-in plunged them deep inside a glacial crevasse—the pitch-black, ice-walled hell of every climber’s nightmares.
 
An avid adventurer since youth, Davidson was a seasoned climber at the time of the Rainier ascent. But the harrowing free fall left him challenged by nature’s grandeur at its most unforgiving. Trapped on a narrow frozen shelf, deep below daylight, he desperately battled crumbling ice, snow that threatened to bury him alive, and crippling fear of the inescapable chasm below—all the while struggling to save his fatally injured friend. Finally, alone, with little equipment and rapidly dwindling hope, he confronted a fateful choice: the certainty of a slow, lonely death or the near impossibility of an agonizing climb for life. A story of heart-stopping adventure, heartfelt friendship, fleeting mortality, and implacable nature, The Ledge chronicles the elation and grief, dizzying heights and punishing depths, of a journey to hard-won wisdom.
 
“Plunges readers into a dark, icy chasm from which escape seems impossible. Then it reveals the strength it takes to look up, and to start climbing.”—Jim Sheeler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the National Book Award finalist Final Salute
 
“How [Davidson] rescued himself is the core of The Ledge, and its most gripping part. The physical effort and will involved are astonishing.”—The Plain Dealer
 
“A moving portrait of friendship and loss.”—The Wall Street Journal

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Review:

Guest Reviewer: James M. Tabor

James M. Tabor earned an MFA from Johns Hopkins University and is a former Contributing Editor to Outside and SKI Magazines. His writing has also appeared in TIME, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Smithsonian, Barron's, and many other national magazines. He was the writer and host of the national PBS series, The Great Outdoors and in 2007 was the co-creator and Executive Producer for the History Channel Special, Journey to the Center of the World. His first book was the international-award-winning Forever on the Mountain (2007) and his most recent was Blind Descent. A former Washington, DC police officer, Tabor now lives in Vermont where he is at work on his first novel, The Deep Zone.

On June 21, 1992, Jim Davidson, 29, and his best friend and climbing partner, Mike Price, 34, summited 14,410-foot Mt. Rainier via the challenging Liberty Ridge route. While descending, Davidson plunged into an 80-foot-deep crevasse and pulled his rope-partner Price in, too. Price died, Davidson survived, and The Ledge is Davidson’s painstakingly detailed account of their accident, written 19 years post facto.

Hundreds of books have described climbing tragedies in such detail. Two things set the best apart. One is the attempt to look beyond obvious vagaries of gear, weather, and happenstance to discover tragedy’s true, dark roots. The other is an equally strong determination to bring something of value back from the brink. These are much harder quests and, to his credit, Davidson tackles both.

That detail, first. Davidson recreates the fatal fall and aftermath as though they happened yesterday, thanks to hours of recollections tape-recorded shortly after the event. That’s important, because on one level, such the success of such narratives depends on details as sharp as ice shards. An example will suffice. After he hit bottom, buried beneath and completely immobilized by cascading snow and ice, Davidson could not breathe.

I suck in hard, trying to grab a breath, but my mouth is half-filled with crunchy snow, so I pull in only a small gulp of air. I try chewing the snow to clear it away, but it is too much, as if someone has stuffed a Popsicle into my mouth. I work my jaw and tongue, struggling to push out the rapidly hardening snow clump. But it turns into a dense lump the size of a plum. When I rest for a second, the snowball settles back in my throat and gags me.

Having had no chance to save his friend, Davidson had to save himself by climbing out of the crevasse, and the odds against him were long. Davidson was injured, exhausted, and probably in shock. He lacked both the requisite technical aid-climbing experience and most of the proper gear. But he drew strength from recollections of Joe Simpson’s against-all-odds self-rescue in Touching the Void. After many hours of struggle, Davidson finally climbed back to the surface. Even then, the ordeal was far from over. It was late and getting dark. He was hurt and had no gear and was alone on a glacier riddled with more crevasses. “I’m out, but I’m not safe,” Davidson acknowledged.

That turned out to be true in more ways than one. Though he survived and eventually recovered physically, Davidson continued to suffer from psychic injuries, survivor’s guilt chief among them. In his journal, he wrote, “How am I to carry this load alone--the self-doubt, the endless questioning? How can I hope to carry it alone?” Mike Price haunted his thoughts and dreams and, laudably, Davidson eschewed the more common rites of exorcism: chemical, alcohol, and compensatory self-sacrifice. Instead, over the months, he went mano a mano with every painful “what if” and found his measure of solace:

Each decision, action, and bit of luck is a fork leading to different outcomes, different branches. Some are sturdy and hold fast, some creak under your weight, some fracture and drop you into unexpected turmoil.

Not perfect, perhaps, but certainly good enough to live with.

Making personal peace with the tragedy was good, but left missing one last arc in the circle of healing. Could something of value be distilled from all the loss and agony? As it turned out, yes. “While I was in the crevasse, Joe Simpson’s survival tale convinced me that there was a remote chance to escape, and that belief helped spur me to action. Perhaps I have an obligation to share my story...”

After securing permission from Mike Price’s parents, Davidson spoke to his first live audience in September, 2003 at the annual Rainier Mountain Festival. Afterward, among the many grateful listeners was a middle-aged mother with two daughters. “I wanted them to hear it,” she told Davidson. “Now if they’re in an accident...they’ll know how much people can do, that we can do incredible things if we try our hardest.” And with that, the circle was complete. Since then, according to his publisher, Davidson has delivered his message to more than 30,000 people. The Ledge is part of his ongoing commitment to Mike Price--and to himself--to find meaning in the heart of tragedy.

Someone once said that for true value, “a book must be about more than it is about.” Jim Davidson’s The Ledge is. You can read it as a thrilling, chilling tale of adventure and death in the mountains, but it is, ultimately, about more than that. As, come to think of it, are climbing and mountains themselves.

About the Author:

Jim Davidson is an accomplished climber, speaker, and science writer. He has brought inspiration to corporate audiences and associations across the United States and overseas through his professional business, Speaking of Adventure. Davidson lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his two adventurous kids and his very tolerant wife.
 
Kevin Vaughan is a versatile reporter and writer at The Denver Post. In 2008, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing. He wrote a five-part series, “The Crevasse,” which delved into the accident on Mount Rainier that took the life of Mike Price and changed Jim Davidson forever. Vaughan lives in the Denver area with his wife and three children.
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Descrizione libro Ballantine Books, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The authors bring extreme climbing to life. . . . Perhaps no author can rationalize why some choose to risk their lives . . . for the thrill of conquering a mountain. The Ledge comes perilously close and tells a ripping true story at the same time. The Denver Post In June 1992, best friends Jim Davidson and Mike Price stood atop Washington s Mount Rainier, celebrating what they hoped would be the first of many milestones in their lives as passionate mountaineers. Then their triumph turned tragic when a cave-in plunged them deep inside a glacial crevasse the pitch-black, ice-walled hell of every climber s nightmares. An avid adventurer since youth, Davidson was a seasoned climber at the time of the Rainier ascent. But the harrowing free fall left him challenged by nature s grandeur at its most unforgiving. Trapped on a narrow frozen shelf, deep below daylight, he desperately battled crumbling ice, snow that threatened to bury him alive, and crippling fear of the inescapable chasm below all the while struggling to save his fatally injured friend. Finally, alone, with little equipment and rapidly dwindling hope, he confronted a fateful choice: the certainty of a slow, lonely death or the near impossibility of an agonizing climb for life. A story of heart-stopping adventure, heartfelt friendship, fleeting mortality, and implacable nature, The Ledge chronicles the elation and grief, dizzying heights and punishing depths, of a journey to hard-won wisdom. Plunges readers into a dark, icy chasm from which escape seems impossible. Then it reveals the strength it takes to look up, and to start climbing. Jim Sheeler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the National Book Award finalist Final Salute How [Davidson] rescued himself is the core of The Ledge, and its most gripping part. The physical effort and will involved are astonishing. The Plain Dealer A moving portrait of friendship and loss. The Wall Street Journal. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780345523204

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Descrizione libro Ballantine Books, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The authors bring extreme climbing to life. . . . Perhaps no author can rationalize why some choose to risk their lives . . . for the thrill of conquering a mountain. The Ledge comes perilously close and tells a ripping true story at the same time. The Denver Post In June 1992, best friends Jim Davidson and Mike Price stood atop Washington s Mount Rainier, celebrating what they hoped would be the first of many milestones in their lives as passionate mountaineers. Then their triumph turned tragic when a cave-in plunged them deep inside a glacial crevasse the pitch-black, ice-walled hell of every climber s nightmares. An avid adventurer since youth, Davidson was a seasoned climber at the time of the Rainier ascent. But the harrowing free fall left him challenged by nature s grandeur at its most unforgiving. Trapped on a narrow frozen shelf, deep below daylight, he desperately battled crumbling ice, snow that threatened to bury him alive, and crippling fear of the inescapable chasm below all the while struggling to save his fatally injured friend. Finally, alone, with little equipment and rapidly dwindling hope, he confronted a fateful choice: the certainty of a slow, lonely death or the near impossibility of an agonizing climb for life. A story of heart-stopping adventure, heartfelt friendship, fleeting mortality, and implacable nature, The Ledge chronicles the elation and grief, dizzying heights and punishing depths, of a journey to hard-won wisdom. Plunges readers into a dark, icy chasm from which escape seems impossible. Then it reveals the strength it takes to look up, and to start climbing. Jim Sheeler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the National Book Award finalist Final Salute How [Davidson] rescued himself is the core of The Ledge, and its most gripping part. The physical effort and will involved are astonishing. The Plain Dealer A moving portrait of friendship and loss. The Wall Street Journal. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780345523204

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Descrizione libro Ballantine Books, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The authors bring extreme climbing to life. . . . Perhaps no author can rationalize why some choose to risk their lives . . . for the thrill of conquering a mountain. The Ledge comes perilously close and tells a ripping true story at the same time. The Denver Post In June 1992, best friends Jim Davidson and Mike Price stood atop Washington s Mount Rainier, celebrating what they hoped would be the first of many milestones in their lives as passionate mountaineers. Then their triumph turned tragic when a cave-in plunged them deep inside a glacial crevasse the pitch-black, ice-walled hell of every climber s nightmares. An avid adventurer since youth, Davidson was a seasoned climber at the time of the Rainier ascent. But the harrowing free fall left him challenged by nature s grandeur at its most unforgiving. Trapped on a narrow frozen shelf, deep below daylight, he desperately battled crumbling ice, snow that threatened to bury him alive, and crippling fear of the inescapable chasm below all the while struggling to save his fatally injured friend. Finally, alone, with little equipment and rapidly dwindling hope, he confronted a fateful choice: the certainty of a slow, lonely death or the near impossibility of an agonizing climb for life. A story of heart-stopping adventure, heartfelt friendship, fleeting mortality, and implacable nature, The Ledge chronicles the elation and grief, dizzying heights and punishing depths, of a journey to hard-won wisdom. Plunges readers into a dark, icy chasm from which escape seems impossible. Then it reveals the strength it takes to look up, and to start climbing. Jim Sheeler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the National Book Award finalist Final Salute How [Davidson] rescued himself is the core of The Ledge, and its most gripping part. The physical effort and will involved are astonishing. The Plain Dealer A moving portrait of friendship and loss. The Wall Street Journal. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780345523204

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