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The Third Pole: Mystery, Obsession, and Death on Mount Everest Kindle Edition
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“If you’re only going to read one Everest book this decade, make it The Third Pole. . . . A riveting adventure.”—Outside
Shivering, exhausted, gasping for oxygen, beyond doubt . . .
A hundred-year mystery lured veteran climber Mark Synnott into an unlikely expedition up Mount Everest during the spring 2019 season that came to be known as “the Year Everest Broke.” What he found was a gripping human story of impassioned characters from around the globe and a mountain that will consume your soul—and your life—if you let it.
The mystery? On June 8, 1924, George Mallory and Sandy Irvine set out to stand on the roof of the world, where no one had stood before. They were last seen eight hundred feet shy of Everest’s summit still “going strong” for the top. Could they have succeeded decades before Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay? Irvine is believed to have carried a Kodak camera with him to record their attempt, but it, along with his body, had never been found. Did the frozen film in that camera have a photograph of Mallory and Irvine on the summit before they disappeared into the clouds, never to be seen again? Kodak says the film might still be viable. . . .
Mark Synnott made his own ascent up the infamous North Face along with his friend Renan Ozturk, a filmmaker using drones higher than any had previously flown. Readers witness first-hand how Synnott’s quest led him from oxygen-deprivation training to archives and museums in England, to Kathmandu, the Tibetan high plateau, and up the North Face into a massive storm. The infamous traffic jams of climbers at the very summit immediately resulted in tragic deaths. Sherpas revolted. Chinese officials turned on Synnott’s team. An Indian woman miraculously crawled her way to frostbitten survival. Synnott himself went off the safety rope—one slip and no one would have been able to save him—committed to solving the mystery.
Eleven climbers died on Everest that season, all of them mesmerized by an irresistible magic. The Third Pole is a rapidly accelerating ride to the limitless joy and horror of human obsession.
“Almost seventy years after my father Tenzing Norgay Sherpa climbed the summit of Chomolungma with the British 1953 Expedition, Western narratives about Mount Everest continue to be haunted by the question whether it was Mallory and Irvine who had been the first to stand on the summit. Mark Synnott’s The Third Pole pursues this mystery and brings us closer to closing this chapter of mountaineering history. I learned a lot from this book.”
—Norbu Tenzing Norgay
“The author and adventurer Mark Synnott skillfully describes early-20th-century exploration, then dives into a story about Everest that merges mystery, adventure and history into a single tragic bundle... Synnott knows how to keep readers turning the pages, and they will speed their way to his mystery’s resolution.”
—The New York Times
“If you’re only going to read one Everest book this decade, make it The Third Pole... a riveting adventure.”
“The book is a fascinating tale and forces the reader to constantly ask themselves, What would I do? in each situation.”
“As in his previous book, the author’s writing comes alive when he recounts life on the mountain...this is a must-read for outdoor enthusiasts and readers of Everest and exploration history.”
—Library Journal, starred review
“[A] hair-raising mountaineering story... A fine tale of adventure and exploration sure to please any fan of climbing and Everest lore.”
—Kirkus, starred review
“Synnott weaves back and forth between the early climbing pioneers' experiences and his 2019 expedition, harrowing in its own right. A gifted storyteller, he proves firsthand the irresistible lure and perilous dangers of climbing Mount Everest.”
“The Third Pole is an elegy of extremes, a white-knuckle tale of obsession and survival. From the archives of London’s Royal Geographical Society to a tent battered by howling winds on the edge of the Death Zone, Mark Synnott puts it all on the line in his quest to solve Mount Everest’s most enduring mystery.”
—Susan Casey, author of national bestsellers The Wave and Voices in the Ocean
“A hundred-year-old detective story with a new twist. A high-altitude adventure. The best Everest book I’ve read since Into Thin Air. Synnott’s climbing skills take you places few will ever dare to tread, but it’s his writing that will keep you turning pages well past bedtime.”
—Mark Adams, author of Tip of the Iceberg and Turn Right at Machu Picchu
“Join Mark Synnott on a quest for an artifact that could change Everest mountaineering history. Part detective story, part high adventure, Synnott engages obsessed historians, dodges Chinese bureaucrats, and ultimately risks his life high on the mountain’s north face. As the tension rises, he discovers astounding strengths in his fellow climbers, tragic frailty, and an ineffable truth he never imagined.”
—Andy Hall, author of Denali’s Howl
About the Author
- ASIN : B08D8JHFX5
- Publisher : Dutton (April 13, 2021)
- Publication date : April 13, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 41372 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 448 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #80,732 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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For instance, he starts by praising the 1999 search team for finding Mallory's body -- which is the conventional narrative which everyone expects. He then proceeds to systematically take apart everything you thought you knew about the incident. He provides a detailed and gruesome account of how Mallory's body was ripped from the ice causing the searchers to choke on the dust of the disintegrating remains. He describes in chilling detail how one climber crawls underneaths Mallory's body to stroke his face with his hand and possibly inventing, from thin air, one of the major mysteries surrounding Mallory's death. And he goes further to dismantle nearly everything you thought you knew about this mystery.
Synnott also sets up a larger allegory for his own search out to the "Holzel" slot to illustrate a point about Mallory's climb. It is a very subtle point, but Synnott does not provide any photos of his excursion to the slot, and people have been curious as to whether he actually made it all the way there. But that is just the point Synnott is trying to make. Do you really need a photo to know what happened?
The books answers a lot of questions, but for every one it answers, it poses two or three more. Most importantly, it illustrates how to convey information in the post-truth world. If you are a Mallory and Irvine fan, this book is a must read. If you are not really familiar with the 1924 expedition, it provides enough background and signal points to follow along, and a couple simple searches on the internet can explain why he goes into such detail on seemingly trivial points.
This is a thinking person's book. If you think it is just about some people climbing a mountain, you are missing the real story.
document the challenge and insanity that accompany those who accept the allure of climbing Mount Everest. As a Flatlander who has been atop ten of Colorado’s 14-teeners, it’s always amazed me that the Everest base camps are over three thousand feet higher than where I’ve been. That’s like three more “Sears” Towers higher to put it in perspective.
Synnott does a great job addressing all the concerns of reaching the top of Everest, as well as building his story around the last attempt by George Mallory and Sandy Irvine in 1924. The author documents the current fools rush toward the summit that inevitably runs the death toll ever higher on this highest of mountains, something that dulled any interest of his in Everest, until a quest was launched to find George Mallory’s partner, Sandy Irvine, and possibly the camera that might have confirmed the two had reached the summit, or not.
Their expedition is to Everest’s North Face, which means red tape galore as they had to secure permits from China, in particular for the drones they intend to bring along to aid in the search for Irvine. Background information is included about Mallory and Irvine, that fleshes out their personalities, personal relationships and skills, as well as the teams to which Mallory and Irvine were members, as well as Synnott’s own team. Synnott also informs the reader how his own adventures wrecked his first marriage, and the Everest expedition put a strain on his second.
Synnott does a nice job in explaining the difference between the South face of Everest, which includes the Khumbu icefall and its inherent dangers, and the culminating Conga line that forms, where climbers are forced to wait in line in the “Death Zone” (above 8,000 meters). The North face, though not having the recurrent nightmare of many trips through the Khumbu icefall, has its own problems, in particularly the “Second Step” that creates a bottleneck similar to the waiting points on the southern route. The author provides the reader with the litany of woes that accompany each climber as they are not only pushed toward the end of their endurance, but how the ordeal is extended by these human caused delays.
The author provides background information on the personalities responsible for surveying the region and measuring the height of Everest. He supplies the reader with the plight of the Sherpas, not only their work loads, but their pecking orders and how a successful summit of Everest can change their lives for the better. Synnott also introduces a cast of characters from other expeditions, their lives, successes and failures and everything in between.
It’s been a while since I’ve had a real page turner in front of me. Mark Synnott’s The Third Pole was a book I had trouble putting down. I enthusiastically give the book the highest rating and recommend it to anyone interested in adventure, mountaineering in general, and Everest in particular.
NOTE: Not a book about the technical aspects of mountain climbing. He sketches it in and compares it to what's known today making achievements of the past even more remarkable, but he pitches the book to those who are not nor ever will be climbers. Have read this book twice now. Elegiac.
Top reviews from other countries
A great book and one I highly recommend.
However, that the book has nothing new on Mallory and Irvine (except a lot of conjecture and wishful romanticizing), takes nothing away from the fact that's it's still a pretty good book - one that tells a great story and is an enjoyable read. Highly recommended 😊👍