The Falling Season: Inside the Life and Death Drama of Aspen's High Mountain Rescue Team

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9780062585653: The Falling Season: Inside the Life and Death Drama of Aspen's High Mountain Rescue Team



* Offers an inside view of the dangers, emotions, and politics of a mountain rescue group

* Covers one of the most publicized mountain rescue operations of the decade: Express Creek
To write fairly about mountain rescuers, journalist Hal Clifford was told, you must become one yourself. And so began the most challenging assignment of his career -- in the wilderness around Aspen, Colorado, where each year the destinies of a handful of skiers, hikers, and climbers intersect with those of their rescuers. The Falling Season is Clifford's thrilling account of an insider's life and time on one of America's premier mountain rescue teams. Giving new voice to the adrenaline rush, he recounts the harrowing moments and the against-the-clock, painstaking procedures of more than a dozen mountain rescues, including 1993's infamous Express Creek crisis and its attendant media circus.
Throughout, he profiles his teammates, dedicated volunteers who leave warm beds and meals at a moment's notice and brave unimaginably harsh conditions to save an injured stranger's life. Here are their thoughts and motivations as they dangle from cliff sides, risk avalanches, and wait for fateful words on static-filled radios. Unflinchingly honest, Clifford also talks about the divisive politics, personal struggles, egos, and occasional unhappy outcomes that are an inevitable part of rescuing life.

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Review:

Hal Clifford lives what he writes. As a member of Mountain Rescue-Aspen, an elite group of volunteers dedicated to helping those lost, injured, or worse in the rugged terrain surrounding one of America's favorite alpine playgrounds, he knows what it means to risk one's own life to save another. He understands the excitement that lures people to the mountains and has witnessed the deadly consequences of ill-conceived, or just plain unlucky, outings.

In The Falling Season, Clifford opens a window on the cliquish world of the "adrenaline junkies" drawn to the dangerous and heroic work of mountain rescue and offers first-hand accounts of actual emergencies. "I keep climbing, up toward a pile of rocks that is the 12,430-foot summit. I look up again and see a body, 50 yards ahead. It is lying head downhill, face turned up to the sky...." In crafting his story, Clifford reconstructs tension-filled events and mixes them with a chronicle of the team's long and colorful history. He focuses on the formerly unfettered group's ongoing struggle with the constraints of a litigious society, increased media exposure, and ballooning government bureaucracy. He attempts journalistic impartiality, but his personal involvement and emotional attachment show through, giving the story a powerful sense of urgency. Clifford possesses the technical skills, conditioning, and experience it takes to belong in Mountain Rescue-Aspen; fortunately for the reader, he happens to be a compelling writer as well. --George Laney

From the Publisher:

The spellbinding story of America's premiere mountain rescue team--told from the inside by a seasoned veteran.

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Clifford, Hal
Published by Harpercollins (1995)
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