On 1 August 2008, 18 climbers from across the world reached the summit of K2, the world’s second highest and most dangerous mountain – a peak which claims the life of one in every four climbers who attempt it. Over the course of 28 hours, however, K2 had exacted a deadly toll: 11 lives were lost in a series of catastrophic accidents.

Over the course of three days, Pemba Gyalje, along with five other Sherpas, was at the centre of a series of attempts to rescue climbers who had become trapped in the Death Zone, unable to escape its clutches and debilitated by oxygen deprivation, chronic fatigue, delirium and a terrifying hopelessness. The tragedy became a controversy as the survivors walked from the catastrophe on the mountain into an international media storm, in which countless different stories emerged, some contradictory and many simply untrue.

Irish climber Ger McDonnell, who became the first Irishman to summit K2 and who lost his life in the descent, and Norwegian adventurer, Rolf Bae, who also died in the tragedy, were friends of co-author and Irish adventurer Pat Falvey. Falvey felt compelled to find out more about what happened to them and the nine other climbers who perished. He began a five-year search for the truth, central to which was the eye-witness account of Pemba Gyalje, who was at the centre of rescue efforts on the mountain and whose story was largely overlooked by the media in the days and weeks following the disaster.

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