To Live

Fighting for life on the killer mountain

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On 25 January 2018, Élisabeth Revol and her climbing partner Tomasz Mackiewicz summited Nanga Parbat, the killer mountain. But their euphoria was short-lived as Tomek was struck by blindness. To Live is Élisabeth’s account of this tragedy and the ensuing rescue operation, and is a poignant tribute to her friend and climbing partner.

On 25 January 2018, Élisabeth Revol and her climbing partner Tomasz Mackiewicz summited Nanga Parbat, the killer mountain. Situated in the Karakoram, the world’s ninth-highest peak is an immense ice-armoured pyramid of rock rising to an altitude of 8,125 metres. Élisabeth and Tomek had completed only the second winter ascent of the mountain, and Élisabeth had become the first woman to summit Nanga Parbat in winter. But their euphoria was short-lived. As soon as they reached the top, their adventure turned into a nightmare as Tomek was struck by blindness. In her own words, Élisabeth tells the story of this tragedy and the extraordinary rescue operation that resounded across the globe as fellow climbers flew in from K2 to help the stricken pair. She confronts her memories, her terror, her immense pain and the heartbreak of having survived, alone. To Live is Élisabeth Revol’s poignant tribute to her friend and climbing partner.

French climber Élisabeth Revol holds an impressive list of achievements in the world of mountaineering and adventure. A former gymnast, she took up climbing as a teenager in her local range, the Écrins massif. She honed her alpine skills as a member of the FFCAM (Fédération Française des Clubs Alpins et de Montagne) and combined mountaineering with a career as a PE teacher. She climbed in the Alps and opened new routes in the Bolivian Andes before discovering a love for high-altitude climbing in the Karakoram and Himalaya. In 2008, Élisabeth became the first woman to link three 8,000-metre summits when she soloed Broad Peak, Gasherbum I and Gasherbrum II in sixteen days, without supplementary oxygen. After the death of her climbing partner Martin Minařík on an expedition to Annapurna in 2009, she spent some time focusing on adventure racing before returning to mountaineering. In winter 2015, Élisabeth and Tomasz (Tomek) Mackiewicz reached an altitude of 7,800 metres on Nanga Parbat before being forced to descend. In May 2017, Élisabeth completed a solo ascent of Lhotse without oxygen. She returned to Nanga Parbat that winter with Tomek to make her fourth attempt on the mountain and Tomek’s seventh. They reached the summit on 25 January 2018, but tragedy struck when Tomek died on the descent and Élisabeth was rescued suffering from frostbite. To Live, her personal account of these events, was first published in French as Vivrein 2019. Following a period of recovery, she continued to climb, summiting Everest and Lhotse on successive days in May 2019, and Manaslu in September 2019.

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