No one sees clearer than an individual whose life is hanging by the finger tips on the edge of an abyss.
Probing the furthest reaches of human daring and endurance, here are 28 of the great first-hand accounts of extreme mountaineering, from legendary names.
*Heinrich Harrer - first conqueror of the notorious Eigerwand.
*Robert Bates - the classic account of the ill-fated American 1953 expedition to K2.
*Maurice Herzog - his unstoppable ascent of Annapurna at the cost of frostbite.
*Walter Bonatti - tragedy on the Central Pillar of Freney on Mont Blanc.
*George Leigh Mallory - surviving an avalanche on the 1922 Everest expedition.
*Rene Desmaison - his epic story of 14 days stuck on The Grandes Jorasses in winter.
*Jon Krakauer - recalling his solo ascent of The Devil's Thumb in Alaska.
The price of the summit is often measured in human suffering, yet for those who succeed the rewards can be incalculable. Nerve-wracking and unputdownable.
Jon E. Lewis is a historian and editor of a wide selection of acclaimed Mammoth titles, including The Mammoth Book of the Deep, and The Mammoth Book of Polar Journeys. He lives in Herefordshire, England.