Review Blog

May 14 2009

Alive in the death zone by Lincoln Hall

cover image

Random House Australia, 2008. ISBN 9781741663372
(Ages 11+) Highly recommended. Alive in the Death Zone by Australian mountaineer Lincoln Hall successfully aims at the children's market, and is an adaptation of his adult book Dead Lucky.
The title refers to the author's miraculous survival from being left for dead overnight at 8,500 metres, just after summiting Mt Everest. Only the last 3 of 12 chapters are on this subject. Earlier chapters describe how Lincoln was introduced to climbing through his school's PE teacher and follows his career from initial excursions into the Brindabella's (ACT) and Blue Mountains, through to training in New Zealand and then completing his first Himalayan climb of 7,000 metre Dunagiri. It also describes how he worked as a trek leader and expedition photographer before his 2006 Mt Everest climb.
This book is brilliantly put together with the autobiographical story being regularly broken up with informative text boxes and captions on such topics as acclimatisation, snow blindness, dangers of couloirs (mountain gullies), yaks, lists of equipment etc. The 103 pages include 90 stunning photos enticing even the laziest person to have a browse. Reality is enhanced with a photo of Lincoln's black and decaying frostbitten fingers, parts of which are later amputated. This book can be read in less than 2 hours, or savoured a chapter at a time.
The climbing history of Everest is summarised: from the 1924 Mallory expedition; the problem that access from either Tibet or Nepal was forbidden for many years; and the successful attempt by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953. A list of the world's highest mountains, a glossary and even a snakes and ladder type game of 'the Everest summit' also contribute to make this book educational.
Alive in the Death Zone is highly recommended for all upper primary and secondary libraries. Its picturesque cover and colourful and varied presentation from page to page will hold the interest of all. Additionally it will be a useful reference for those doing climbing in outdoor education. Adults seeking an inspiring story also will love this book and find themselves subconsciously extending their knowledge.
Kay Haarsma (Salisbury East High School)

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