I am neither churchly nor a particularly spiritual person, but I can tell you that some force within me rejected death at the last moment and then guided me, blind and stumbling—quite literally a dead man walking—into camp and the shaky start of my return to life.
On May 10, 1996, nine climbers perished in a blizzard high on Mount Everest, the single deadliest day ever on the peak. The following day, one of those victims was given a second chance. His name was Beck Weathers.
The tale of Dr. Seaborn Beck Weathers's miraculous awakening from a deep hypothermic coma was widely reported. But the hidden story of what led the pathologist to Everest in the first place, and his painful recovery after his dramatic rescue, has not been told until now.
Brilliant and gregarious, Weathers discovered in his thirties that mountain climbing helped him cope with the black dog of depression that had shadowed him since college. But the self-prescribed therapy came at a steep cost: estrangement from his wife, Peach, and their two children. By the time he embarked for Everest, his home life had all but disintegrated.
Yet when he was reported dead after lying exposed on the mountain for eighteen hours in subzero weather, it was Peach who orchestrated the daring rescue that brought her husband home. Only then, facing months of surgery and the loss of his hands, did Beck Weathers also begin to face himself, his family, his past and uncertain future. Told in Beck Weathers's inimitably direct and engaging voice—with frequent commentary from Peach, their family, their friends and others involved in this unique journey—Left for Dead shows how one man's drive to conquer the most daunting physical challenges ultimately forced him to confront greater challenges within himself. Framed by breathtaking accounts of his near death and resurrection, and of his slow and agonizing physical and emotional recovery, Left for Dead offers a fascinating look at the seductive danger of extreme sports, as in rapid succession a seemingly unstoppable Weathers attacks McKinley, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro—before fate stops him cold, high in the Death Zone of the world's tallest peak.
Full of deep insight and warm humor, Left for Dead tells the story of a man, a marriage and a family that survived the unsurvivable. Candid and uncompromising, it is a deeply compelling saga of crisis and change, and of the abiding power of love and family—a story few readers will soon forget.
Left for Dead is a deeply personal story, told in first person by a variety of people who contributed to the survival of Beck Weathers during the Everest accident of 1996 that left nine climbers dead. It goes past the tragedy to discuss why Weathers got involved in climbing in the first place, his lengthy and painful recovery, and the all-important relationship with his wife, Margaret (commonly referred to as Peach). Without Peach's hope and tenacity, it's likely that rescue efforts would not have been continued, and Weathers may never have recovered from the hypothermic coma and its dreadful results. The story of their relationship--they were estranged at the time of the accident--is told from both perspectives, and his obsession with mountains seems almost like another family member. The overall tone is straightforward and conversational: children, pets, and clothing feature as prominently as reconstructive surgery and heroic rescues. But no matter how plainly they are told, the events of that climb are sure to bring tears. Rob Hall's last conversation with his wife, climbers disappearing into the storm, Anatoli Boukreev's rescuing three people, and Weathers and climbing partner Yasuko being left for dead are just a few from a long list. Still, you'll find yourself laughing just pages later, when Weathers gets his rescue team to sing "Chain of Fools" while hiking back to safety--you can imagine Peach being in full agreement of that song's appropriateness. The Everest deaths affected people around the world, and this chronicle of one survivor and his family is a hopeful reminder of the good that can result from such tragedies. --Jill LightnerAbout the Author:
Beck Weathers has become a much-sought-after speaker before professional, corporate and academic audiences. He lives with his family in Dallas, where he also practices medicine.
Stephen G. Michaud is the author or co-author of nine books, including The Evil That Men Do and The Only Living Witness. His website is www. stephenmichaud.com.
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