The Endless Knot:
K2, Mountain of Dreams and Destiny
By Kurt Diemberger
Translated by Audrey Salkeld
Grafton Books, London, 1991. 308 pages,
The Mountaineers Books, Seattle. Washington, 1991
“This is not so much a mountaineering book as a love story. A story of the love between a man and a woman and their passion for mountains. A soliloquy rather than a narrative, a story of death and disaster with few heroes.
At 60, Kurt Diemberger is a grand veteran of climbs around the world. Mountains are not the main part of his life—they are, he writes, "what we are living for". Since his youth he has been devoted to mountains as climber, photographer, writer and lecturer. Julie Tullis became his acolyte and partner and her memory permeates this entire book. She was 47 when she died. Both were happily married—she in Britain, he in Italy—and both had children.
They met in 1975 but climbed together for only five years. The Karakoram became their dream, and the summit of K2 their obsession. It is consoling to know they had reached their goal before Julie died, overcome on the descent. Most of the book is devoted to K2 but Diemberger tells brief, taut stories of Herman Buhl and himself on Chogolisa, and of how Julie and he almost died during their climb of Broad Peak. Many vivid flashbacks illuminate the central figure—Julie.”
Charles S. Houston, “American Alpine Journal” 1992, p. 277-278
“The Endless Knot is a beautiful, moving, intensely subjective account of the tragic events that unfolded on K2 during the summer of 1986. Kurt Diemberger's meticulous research, maps and tables, his evocative writing and photographs, assembled with a loving care all too rare in climbing books, all add up to a fine memorial.”
Stephen Venables, “Alpine Journal” 1992/93, p. 290-292
“The Endless Knot is Kurt Diemberger's impassioned account of his long climbing career, his love for mountaineering and his long time partner, Julie Tullis, and the events that led to her death and that of 12 other climbers on the storm-swept slopes of K2 in 1986. (…)
The author traces his and Tullis s growing obsession with the world's second-highest mountain, which is also the highest peak in the Karakoram of Pakistan, and recalls his first glimpse of it in 1957, while climbing nearby Broad Peak with the late Hermann Buhl. These reminiscences are written in such a way that they seem pale; however, the image of K2 becomes clear when Diemberger concentrates on the climb five years ago.
Part of the problem may be that something is lost in the translation from the manuscript's original German. This might also explain a certain unevenness of style and syntax, and the author's unlikely choice of the present tense to describe all his earlier expeditions. Once he is dealing with the 1986 climb, though, the immediacy of the present tense begins to work well. Diemberger's account becomes a gripping drama of struggle, success, and tragedy. In addition, his analysis of what happened, and his own role in the events, is clear-headed and insightful. (…)
As with all tragedies like the one chronicled in The Endless Knot, there are lessons to be learned from the linked events. Diemberger's relentless scrutiny of each and every detail serves to both heal his own wounds, and warn the next wave of climbers to come.”
Joseph Ferguson, “Climbing” 1991, No. 128, p. 133-134