The story of a climbing adventure gone wrong in a remote Alaskan mountain range, the impossible rescue attempt that followed, and the fraught cost of survival
In 2018, two couples set out on an expedition to Alaska’s Hidden Mountains, one of the last wild ranges in North America. A rarity in modern climbing, the peaks were nearly unexplored and untouched, a place where few people had ever visited and granite spires still awaited first ascents. Inspired by generations of daring alpinists before them, the four friends were now compelled to strike out into uncharted territory themselves.
This trip to the Hidden Mountains would be the culmination of years of climbing together, promising to test the foursome’s skill and dedication to the sport. But as they would soon discover, no amount of preparation can account for the unknowns of true wilderness. As they neared the top of an unclimbed peak, rockfall grievously injured one of the team while he was out of sight, leaving him stranded and in critical condition.
Over the course of the next nine hours, the other three climbers worked to reach their companion. What followed was a pulse-pounding rescue attempt by Alaska’s elite pararescue jumpers in one of the most remote regions in the country—raising difficult questions about wilderness accessibility, technology’s role in outdoor adventure, and what it means to weigh risk against the siren song of the mountains.
With visceral prose, Michael Wejchert recounts the group’s rescue and traces the scars left in the wake of life-altering trauma. Weaving the history and evolution of rock and alpine climbing with outside tales of loss and survival in the mountains, Wejchert gives a full picture of the reward—and cost—of following your passions in the outdoors.