Brotherhood of the Rope
The biography of Charles Houston, M.D., famed for leading the heroic K2 expedition of 1953 and his pioneering research in high-altitude medicine.
Best known for the attempted rescue in 1953 of an injured team member from high on K2, Dr. Charles Houston’s life beyond mountaineering has also been one of outspokenness, daring, and commitment to humanity. The story of his 91 years is inspiring in the best and truest sense of the word.
In Brotherhood of the Rope Bernadette McDonald offers insights into the inner man: a man who, always driving himself to do more, wrote in his diary, “Is it not better to take risks…than die within from rot? Is it not better to change one’s life completely than to wait for the brain to set firmly and irreversibly in one way of life and one environment? I think it is….taking risks, not for the sake of danger alone, but for the sake of growth, is more important than any security one can buy or inherit.”
Published by: The Mountaineers Books, 2007. ISBN 0898869420
“Charlie Houston has lived a long life of continuing adventure and achievement. Yet he has never sought praise, recognition, or credit; his reward has been in the action and accomplishment, not in adulation or applause. Now in his 90s, he remains one of the most remarkable men I have ever met — and one of the least celebrated. This book is a necessary corrective, an important contribution to preserving the legacy of a great life, and a ripping good story.”
— Bill Moyers
“Charlie Houston achieved fame as both a physician and a mountain climber. His contributions to the medical profession and his expeditions to K2 and Nanda Devi are the outstanding highlights of his career. I know him as a person who radiates curiosity, joie de vivre and compassion, that characteristic described by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as ‘the foundation of our unity’. Charlie Houston is an extraordinary human being, whose life story
will inspire all who read it.”
— Reinhold Messner
“Charlie Houston is an authentic American hero, and in Brotherhood of the Rope, Bernadette McDonald has pulled off a tour de force of biography, probing deep into the soul and life of a complex, troubled, brilliant man and mountaineer.”
— David Roberts, author of several titles including Sandstone Spine, Moments of Doubt and On the Ridge Between Life and Death: A Climbing Life Reexamined
“This biography is unlike any other we have read in the literature. Although those of us who know Charlie through mountaineering or high altitude research hold him in the highest regard, his personal and medical career was as checkered as any of us. He faced many personal and professional disappointments and self doubts, and has allowed Bernadette to tell his story with more candor and self revelation than is found in even the most revealing exposes. Frankly, this book is absolutely remarkable, and will create quite a buzz in the mountaineering community.” — Michael Chessler