Over the Edge: The True Story of the Kidnap and Escape of Four Climbers in Central Asia

Over the Edge: The True Story of the Kidnap and Escape of Four Climbers in Central Asia

Greg Child

Language: English

Pages: 324


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

*CLICK HERE to download sample chapters from Over the Edge *

* A different sort of true climbing adventure—this one with terrorists, kidnappings, and AK47s

* New afterword by the author

* First time in paperback

Before dawn on August 12, 2000, four of America’s best young rock climbers—Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden, Jason “Singer” Smith, and John Dickey—were asleep in their portaledges high on the Yellow Wall in the Pamir-Alai mountain range of Kyrgyzstan. At daybreak, they would be kidnapped at gunpoint by fanatical militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which operates out of secret bases in Tajikistan and Afghanistan and is linked to Al Qaeda. The kidnappers, themselves barely out of their teens, intended to use their hostages as human shields and for ransom money as they moved across Kyrgyzstan. They hid the climbers by day and marched them by night through freezing, treacherous mountain terrain, with little food, no clean water, and the constant threat of execution.

The four climbers -- the oldest of them only 25 -- would see a fellow hostage, a Kyrgyz soldier, executed before their eyes. And in a remarkable life-and-death crucible over six terrifying days, they would be forced to choose between saving their own lives and committing an act none of them thought they ever could.

In Over the Edge, the climbers reveal the complete story of their nightmarish ordeal to journalist and climber Greg Child. With riveting details, Child re-creates the entire hour-by-hour drama, from the first ricocheting bullets to the climatic decision that gains them their freedom. Set in a region rife with narcotics and terrorism, this is a compelling story about loyalty and the will to survive. What continues to make it relevant today, 15 years after the events took place, is the geopolitical context -- the incident happened, eerily, on the eve of 9–/11; the fact that at least two of the four climbers continue to be prominent in the sport; and the details incorporated into the story around the media hype and controversy regarding the climbers and their story.

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people who had crossed paths with the Americans in the mountains. During the helicopter flight out from the Karavshin that November day, when the Mi8 touched down at the Batken airport Willis saw a German TV crew on the tarmac, filming a helicopter taking off. When Willis wondered aloud at what kind of program the Germans might be shooting, he noticed Bouchard become “agitated.” “It’s obvious, isn’t it?” Willis recalled Bouchard saying. “They’re after the same story as me.” THE CLIMBING WORLD

BISHKEK AUGUST 19 – 21 Short of being surrounded by fortress walls, most everything about the U.S. embassy in Bishkek suggests a building designed to weather any shit that might hit the Central Asian fan. Low-profile to the point of looking as if it is sinking into the ground, its sturdy horizon looks able to deflect rocket attacks. The building stands apart from suburban Bishkek, on a grassy acreage that affords a good view of approaching foes. An airstrip big enough to handle transport jets

He agrees to pass to Beth my request for an interview when she gets home the following day, but he mentions that TV and newspaper people are camped out in front of his house and that she’ll be busy. Next, I call The North Face to see what they know. I have been a member of the company’s climbing team since the early 1990s, and I am in their employ as a professional climber in addition to working as a writer. Although the Kyrgyzstan expedition was sponsored by The North Face, I know nothing about

a passenger from Pan Am flight 073, which was hijacked on September 5, 1986, while on the ground at the Islamabad airport. Michael Thexton, an Englishman, is the brother of Peter Thexton, whom I climbed with on an expedition to Pakistan’s Karakoram Range in 1983. Peter died on our climb of an eight-thousand-meter mountain called Broad Peak, and in 1986 Michael was in Pakistan to visit his brother’s last resting place. Flight 073 was supposed to take Michael home after his pilgrimage. I first met

the face of a military prosecutor, who summarizes the deposition: “. . . we realize it is difficult to assume that the people participating in these illegal groups will provide a complete and true picture. We can reason that by the following: they are specially trained people, and they have been warned by their people and threatened with death for the divulgence of any data. . . . Prisoner Sharipov was part of that group who captured the hostages, the American tourists. In his deposition he did

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