A SLENDER THREAD - VENABLES
A Slender Thread
By Stephen Venables
Like most accidents, it happened on the way down. Stephen Venables and three companions were returning triumphant from the first ascent of Panch Chuli V – a remote Himalayan peak on the borders of India, Nepal and Tibet. They had been gone from the top camp for twenty-four hours and the fifth team member, Chris Bonnington, was waiting anxiously. It was just before dawn when Bonnington saw a torchlight plunging through the darkness and knew that something terrible had happened.
Crashing through the black night, flung from rock to rock, Stephen Venables assumed that he was plunging to his death. Against all the odds, he survived a fall of three hundred feet. However, both his legs were broken, one gashed open to the bone. Stranded at 19, 000 feet above a labyrinth of dangerous, chaotic glaciers, his predicament was desperate. Food and fuel had virtually run out and the only medical supplies were a rudimentary First Aid Kit… This is the gripping account of an extraordinary escape, by one of the best known mountaineers of his generation. It is also a fascinating story of exploration – the exploration of a remote unknown Himalayan valley and the less obvious, internal, exploration of a mind trying to come to terms with risk and death. Stephen Venables’s account of the journey is by turns anguished, funny, lyrical, joyful and terrifying. Despite his horribly narrow escape, he comes as close as anyone to answering that old, unanswerable question, ‘Why do they do it?’
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