The White Death: Tragedy and Heroism in an Avalanche Zone



The White Death: Tragedy and Heroism in an Avalanche Zone
By turns gripping, informative, and even frightening, The White Death probes the interplay of human endeavor in the mountains, the fragile beauty of snow, and nature's mysterious power. Jenkins succeeds admirably in melding human drama with the indifference of natural forces, allowing the 'avalanche-beast' to build in character through survivors' reports, news clippings, and scientific findings. The book's emotional centerpiece is the tragic story of an avalanche that roared down Mount Cleveland in Glacier National Park, where five young climbers set out to scale the treacherous North Face. Just days into their climb, snow and strong winds set in. 'What they saw could not have been inviting: snow clouds covered the mountain's summit...with loose powder avalanches regularly scrubbing it clean.' Bud Anderson, older brother to one of the climbers, flew his single-engine plane over the mountain to observe the team's progress. 'He hoped, perhaps, to rock his wings at them as a sign of encouragement, or congratulations.' Instead, 'his breath caught. The tracks ended at the unmistakable edge of a massive fresh avalanche...' Jenkins's stirring account pieces the clues and rescue efforts together to read like a true and terrible mystery being solved.
The horror of being buried alive by snow is vivid and sober among these pages, and is sure to chill climbers as well as those reading from the comforts of central heating. The author's vision is acute and helps better assess the bounds of our human capacity and domain.


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