Published in 2007, Dead Lucky: Life After Death on Mount Everest, is Lincoln Hall’s account of the 2006 Mount Everest season in which 11 climbers died and having been left for dead himself, managed to survive a night a 28,200 feet only to be found alive the following morning. With the help of 4 Sherpas, he survives an arduous descent to Base Camp.
Unlike most of the recent Mount Everest books that chronicle expeditions on the more popular South Face of Everest, Hall’s expedition takes place on the less well-known North Face on the Tibetan side of the mountain. Those readers who are familiar with the key features of the South Face (Khumbu Icefield, Lhotse Face, Hillary Step, etc), will be pleased to learn that there’s another whole side to Mount Everest–providing it’s own unique challenges.
Having been turned back just shy of the summit in 1984, Hall begins by describing the events which presented the opportunity for another chance at the world’s highest peak. Recruited as a high-altitude cameraman to document the climb of Christopher Harris, the teenager attempting to summit the 7 highest peaks on each continent, Hall began training in preparation for an expedition that would begin only 9 weeks later. Although Christopher Harris and his father, Richard, would abort their summit attempts, Hall was feeling strong and at midnight on May 25th left High Camp at 27,300 feet to begin his own attempt. At 9:00 AM, Hall reached the summit of Everest. As is often the case, the problems began on the descent. Fatigue and cerebral edema began to take their toll and by the time he reached the Second Step, he was clearly in trouble. After hours of descending with minimal progress, he collapsed just below the Third Step. Feeling the situation to be hopeless, the Sherpas were told to descend or else risk dying themselves. On the morning of May 26, four climbers from another expedition were startled to find Hall alive and sitting cross-legged on the ridge at 28,000 feet. Thus began the rescue that would save his life.
In the midst of the drama occurring on the mountain, Hall describes the nightmare at home as his family, indeed the whole world, is notified of his death only to begin hearing rumors of his survival. The book is a quick read and provides a fascinating insight into this tragic season on the North Side of Everest. Hall provides a very readable and personable story–although some of the lengthy hallucinatory dream sequences can become a bit tedious. Nevertheless, any fan of mountaineering will want to add this their collection.