Savage Arena

K2, Changabang and the North Face of the Eiger

Author: Joe Tasker Sir Chris Bonington

Series title:

Paperback publication date: 04 Feb 2021

Paperback ISBN: 9781911342243

Savage Arena is an inspirational tale of the adventuring spirit which follows its own path. Tasker vividly describes the first British winter ascent of the North Face of the Eiger, the first ascent of the West Wall of Changabang and his two unsuccessful attempts on K2, the second highest mountain on Earth.

Joe Tasker lies, struck down by illness, in a damp, bug-infested room in the Himalaya, wondering if he will be well enough to climb Dunagiri, his first venture to the ‘big’ mountains. One of Britain’s foremost mountaineers and a pioneer of lightweight climbing, he is about to attempt one of the first true ‘alpine-style’ climbs in the Greater Ranges. The Dunagiri attempt forms part of Tasker’s striking tale of adventure in the savage arena of the mountains. A superb writer, he vividly describes the first British winter ascent of the North Face of the Eiger, the first ascent of the West Wall of Changabang– considered a ‘preposterous’ plan by the climbing world – and his two unsuccessful attempts on K2, the second highest mountain on Earth. Savage Arena is both moving and exciting, an inspirational tale of the adventuring spirit which follows its own path, endlessly seeking new challenges, climbs and difficulties to overcome. It is not reaching the summit which counts, it is the journey to it. It is also a story of the stresses and strains of living for long periods in constant anxiety, often with only one other person, and of the close and vital human relationships which spring from those circumstances.

Joe Tasker was one of Britain’s foremost mountaineers. He was a pioneer of lightweight, ‘Alpine-style’ climbing in the Greater Ranges and had a special talent for writing. He died, with his friend Peter Boardman, high on Everest in 1982 while attempting the previously unclimbed North East Ridge. Their deaths marked the end of a remarkable era in British mountaineering. Born in Hull in 1948, Joe began rock climbing in his teens. Drawn to mountaineering, he made many remarkable ascents in the Alps, including the first British winter ascent of the North Face of the Eiger, before moving to the Greater Ranges. Here, Joe pioneered routes of extreme technical difficulty in a bold, Alpine-style – at a time when huge expeditions and siege tactics were still the mountaineering norm. Peter and Joe left two legacies. One was their great endeavour, their climbs on high peaks with bold, lightweight innovative methods; the second is the books they wrote and left behind. Both had developed a special talent for writing. Joe’s first book Everest the Cruel Way is an exciting account of his winter attempt on Everest and his second book, Savage Arena, was finished just before he left for Everest in 1982. Both have become mountaineering classics. The Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature was established in Pete and Joes’ honour, and is presented annually to the author or co-authors of an original work which has made an outstanding contribution to mountain literature. For more information about the Boardman Tasker Prize, visit: www.boardmantasker.com

Born in 1934, Chris Bonington – mountaineer, writer, photographer and lecturer – started climbing at the age of sixteen in 1951. It has been his passion ever since. He made the first British ascent of the north face of the Eiger and led the expedition that made the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna, the biggest and most difficult climb in the Himalaya at the time. He went on to lead the expedition that made the first ascent of the south-west face of Everest in 1975, when Doug Scott and Dougal Haston became the first Britons to summit, and he reached the summit of Everest himself in 1985 with a Norwegian expedition. He has written seventeen books, fronted numerous television programmes and has lectured to the public and corporate audiences all over the world. He received a knighthood in 1996 for services to mountaineering, was president of the Council for National Parks for eight years, and is the non-executive chairman of Berghaus and a chancellor of Lancaster University.

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