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The Ghosts of K2

The Epic Saga of the First Ascent

Mick Conefrey

At 28,251 ft, K2 might be almost 800 ft shorter than Everest, but it’s a far harder climb. In this definitive account, Mick Conefrey grippingly describes the early attempts to reach the summit and provides a fascinating exploration of the first ascent’s complex legacy. From the drug-addicted occultist Aleister Crowley to Achille Compagnoni and Lindo Lacedelli, the Italian duo who finally made it to the summit, The Ghosts of K2 charts how a slew of great men became fixated on this legendary mountain.

Through exclusive interviews with surviving team members and their families, and unrivalled access to diaries and letters that have been archived around the world, Conefrey evokes the true atmosphere of the Savage Mountain and explores why it remains the ‘mountaineer’s mountain’, despite a history steeped in controversy and death. Wrought with tension, and populated by tragic heroes and eccentric dreamers, The Ghosts of K2 is a masterpiece of mountaineering literature.

  • Publication date: October 15, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781780745954
  • RRP: £20.00
  • Pages: 336


'Well researched...vivid...Conefrey narrates each attempt as a gripping story, with mounting tension'.

Compass Sport

'Conefrey deftly takes on K2's history...and, while most of us will never scale such lofty peaks, Conefrey's book is as close as we can get without having to leave the armchair'.

Catholic Herald

‘The amateur and professional climbers Conefrey chronicles are so uniformly interesting—and in some cases strange—that they each deserve a separate book, but together they suggest the obsession of the lure of mountains. In the end, The Ghosts of K2 is a history of more than a half-century of mountain climbing.’

Choice magazine

'Conefrey has a thriller-writer's eye, capturing the tension...and the horrors...A fine study of a deadly obsession'.

Geographical Magazine

I had to remind myself that this was history, not a thriller. I read till the unwise hours of the night, promising myself that I would just get to the end of the chapter, but then found myself beginning a new one.

Daily Mail, Best Books of 2015

‘Brilliantly evokes the danger and strangeness of high-altitude climbing... In this fascinating and poignant book, Conefrey ventures into a liminal zone: of dreams, controversies and unquiet ghosts.’


‘There is a haunting tone to the very name K2, this impossible mountain upon the flanks of which so many lives have been lost. In this wonderful book Mick Conefrey manages to turn the sound of tragedy into a celebration of hope, a triumph of the spirit.’

Wade Davis, author of Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest

'A worthy successor to Everest 1953...scholarly yet accessible'.

Footsteps on the Mountain

‘Conefrey is an exceptional writer… The Ghosts of K2 is an absolutely fantastic voyage into the heritage and the stories that live within it.’

American Alpine Institute

'Downright thrilling; [Conefrey] really gives us a sense of what it must have been like, battling exhaustion and frigid temperatures to get to the top of the world...For fans of books about climbing, this one’s a must-read'.

BooklistDavid Pitt

'Conefrey gives a compelling account of the first attempt to conquer 'Savage Mountain'...exploring both the practical side...and the people brave enough to attempt the climb'.

History Revealed

Only unbridled ambition is going to get you up K2. And the stories of the early attempts and the eventual success illustrate the complexity of the mountain and the climbers who chose to risk it all. Ghosts of K2 brings them back to life.

Peter Edmund Hillary – mountaineer, expedition leader, philanthropist and author

Mick Conefrey

Mick Conefrey is author of the award-winning Adventurer’s Handbook, currently in development with Universal Pictures. An internationally recognised documentary film-maker, he has won many awards for his films on mountaineering and exploration; most prominent is his 2002 film The Race for Everest with the BBC.

Author page

More books by Mick Conefrey

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