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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Lhotse years earlier. Cesen, it turned out, had no photos of his climb, despite having claimed to have taken pictures along the route. The closer Cesen’s ascent was examined, the greater the inconsistencies in his story became. In the end, Reinhold Messner felt that Cesen’s credibility was so eroded that he withdrew the Snow Leopard Award he had honored Cesen with and struck out the dedication to Cesen he’d made from future printings of one of his books. The climbing world is now divided equally

survived the attack on Kyrgyzstan, whom I visited in a Kyrgyz prison in March 2001. This is also the story of a story that refused to stop unfolding even during the months it was being written. Among the bizarre twists and turns that arose after the hostage drama was over were the discovery that the terrorist the Americans believed they had killed by pushing from a cliff was alive; allegations that the climbers made up their story; and the return to Kyrgyzstan by Dickey and Smith, with me, to

AROUND THE SAME TIME that the Australians are being evicted, at a checkpoint near Vorukh, four Ukrainian climbers from the cities of Rostov-on-Don and Kiev are arguing heatedly with the Kyrgyz soldiers who are turning them away from the entrance to the Karavshin Valley. The Ukrainians have traveled overland from Tashkent in Uzbekistan. They’ve been to the Karavshin before, and they’ve already bribed their way through Tajik border guards, just like on every other trip. “You don’t pay anything,

named after the schools themselves. The word Talib means ‘student.’ ” Madrassas also gathered up non-Afghan nationals from Arab states and Pakistan to fight their opposition, known as the Northern Alliance. By the year 2000, the Taliban controlled 90 percent of Afghanistan, with the Northern Alliance mainly cornered in the north, near the Uzbek and Tajik borders. By then the Central Asian countries and Russia were experiencing the spread of Taliban ideals onto their own soil. Adding to this

looks; Rodden and Caldwell clasp each other’s hands. That they are being sucked into a vortex of danger is apparent. “Someone has to go down, to see what they want,” Caldwell says. “Go down?” Rodden says, alarmed by the suggestion. “Are you sure?” “Okay. Tommy, John, we’ll throw for it. Even draws. Odd man out goes down.” Smith leaves Rodden’s name off the list of contenders. “I’ll go,” Dickey says, settling the issue. Smith looks at his bunk mate and nods. At twenty-five, Dickey is the

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