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Item - Everest: You Decide How to Survive!

Series: Worst-Case Scenario Ultimate Adventure — no. 1
Platform: Kindle
Authors: Doyle, Bill
Borgenicht, David
Morton, David (climbing consultant)
Illustrator: Labat, Yancey
Date: March 16, 2011
ISBN: 0811871231 / 9780811871235
Length: 208 pages
KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts: There have been other gamebooks about mountain climbing, but Everest: You Decide How to Survive! has a stronger factual basis than any I know. Co-authors Bill Doyle and David Borgenicht invited David Morton, who had summited Mount Everest six times as of this book's publication, to help write the story, and it shows. This isn't a romanticized adventure of scaling sheer cliff walls and braving arctic cold all the time. There's a lot of backtracking from one base camp to another, slowly acclimating to the thin air and temperature changes. Courage isn't the greatest asset in attempting Everest; a keen mind is, one that recognizes the dangers of scaling the highest mountain on earth. If your body is slow to adapt to the pressure shift between altitudes, or you wake up feeling unwell and could use extra time to recuperate, it's almost always the correct choice to listen to your body and not climb Everest when you don't feel right. Emphasizing responsible decisions isn't the most exciting way to build a story, but the authors want to bring the real experience to readers, and they've done that in this book. Any reader who makes it to the pinnacle of Mount Everest and survives the descent all on their first try has achieved something remarkable.

Garrett Scott (from Australia), Julia Reyez (Argentina), and you are thirteen-year-old amateur mountaineers with experience on some of the world's highest peaks. Sponsored by Jake Staples, head of a video game company, you three are ready to attempt becoming the youngest to ever climb Mount Everest. Your adult guides include Hans Moser (an ambitious Swiss climber), Russ Morello (a veteran summiteer and former marine) and Russ's wife, "Doc", who will evaluate your team's health throughout the expedition. Jake Staples is also going, as well as fifteen Sherpa guides. Lhakpa Sherpa, only nine years your senior and eager to summit Everest for the first time, is assigned to you. The journey gets off to a designed slow start, but you have important choices from the get-go. Will you adhere to every word of your Expedition File (located at the back of Everest: You Decide How to Survive!, to be read before starting the story), even if a recommended course of action seems overcautious? You have zero room for error on your Everest excursion; you might survive if you make a minor mistake, but your pathway to the ultimate success will be cut off. Take the Expedition File seriously and refer back to it if in doubt, for careless blunders can not only end your bid for a world record on Everest, but lead to your death.

Ascending Everest is a weeks-long process, and the closer you get to the end, the more tempted you'll be to set caution aside and take the summit if it's within reach. That loss of focus can be lethal, and you're not the only one vulnerable to it once the peak is in sight. You'll have to assess the situations you're in objectively, deciding when to back off and attempt the last leg of the climb another day, and when to press your advantage and finish the quest while the narrow window is open. Don't let yourself be talked into ascending when you're in poor health or the weather is worsening. It will hurt to turn back with the pinnacle in sight, but sometimes walking away from making history is the wise course of action, and you'll win the respect of your peers by recognizing when that time has come. There'll be no celebration if you drag yourself to the top and then die on the way down, victim of an avalanche, fall, or freezing in a blizzard. But if you do survive the summit with your friends and assortment of guides, the euphoria is like no other. Celebrating on top of the planet with the people you partnered with to get there puts you in an exclusive group you'll always be proud you earned membership into. No wonder people who climb Everest together tend to remain close for life.

I like the brief cinematic switches to the style of a graphic novel for action scenes. Yancey Labat's illustrations are suited for this; I'm not surprised he had done work with Marvel Comics. The traditional storytelling is evocative, too. Whether it's a rough climb up a towering sheet of ice, the majesty of billions of stars dotting the inky sky as you gaze upward from your mountain vantage point, or the forbidding bite of wind and snow if you're caught in a whiteout, you'll feel to some degree as though you've actually been to scale Mount Everest. You may not achieve ultimate success on your first trip, but there will be more opportunities as long as you think smart and survive. With luck, fortitude, and iron resolve, you'll reach the top of Everest eventually. In my opinion, this book is more cohesive and satisfying than the second in the series, about colonizing Mars. Everest: You Decide How to Survive! has lots of action, detailed content, and a sense of accomplishment when you reach the ultimate success. Adventurous readers will have fun with it.

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