Over the Edge: The True Story of the Kidnap and Escape of Four Climbers in Central Asia
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
* A different sort of true climbing adventure—this one with terrorists, kidnappings, and AK47s
* New afterword by the author
* First time in paperback
Before dawn on August 12, 2000, four of America’s best young rock climbers—Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden, Jason “Singer” Smith, and John Dickey—were asleep in their portaledges high on the Yellow Wall in the Pamir-Alai mountain range of Kyrgyzstan. At daybreak, they would be kidnapped at gunpoint by fanatical militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which operates out of secret bases in Tajikistan and Afghanistan and is linked to Al Qaeda. The kidnappers, themselves barely out of their teens, intended to use their hostages as human shields and for ransom money as they moved across Kyrgyzstan. They hid the climbers by day and marched them by night through freezing, treacherous mountain terrain, with little food, no clean water, and the constant threat of execution.
The four climbers -- the oldest of them only 25 -- would see a fellow hostage, a Kyrgyz soldier, executed before their eyes. And in a remarkable life-and-death crucible over six terrifying days, they would be forced to choose between saving their own lives and committing an act none of them thought they ever could.
In Over the Edge, the climbers reveal the complete story of their nightmarish ordeal to journalist and climber Greg Child. With riveting details, Child re-creates the entire hour-by-hour drama, from the first ricocheting bullets to the climatic decision that gains them their freedom. Set in a region rife with narcotics and terrorism, this is a compelling story about loyalty and the will to survive. What continues to make it relevant today, 15 years after the events took place, is the geopolitical context -- the incident happened, eerily, on the eve of 9–/11; the fact that at least two of the four climbers continue to be prominent in the sport; and the details incorporated into the story around the media hype and controversy regarding the climbers and their story.
That I would write the closing chapters of this book in the shadow of September 11, and that in his address to the nation after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, President Bush would name the IMU as one of the principal targets alongside bin Laden in the war in Afghanistan. Indeed, there appears to be a sense of closure to this story with the news in November 2001 of the death of Juma Namangani, the leader of the IMU and a lieutenant of bin Laden, in an American bombing raid. Namangani.
Vorukh), then hop again over another short stretch of Kyrgyz land into “mainland” Uzbekistan and the Fergana Valley, where they would join other IMU fighters and begin guerrilla operations against the Karimov regime. The largest armed group was led by Namangani. During the peace process in Tajikistan in 1997 he had watched quietly from the sidelines as his former allies in the UTO made the transition from being guerrilla warlords hiding in the mountains to politicians holding powerful positions.
Southern Kyrgyzstan. When the rebels reached Kyrgyzstan’s mountain passes they moved through them easily, using local Kyrgyz shepherds as guides. Provisions came from preplaced caches sometimes hidden in abandoned Soviet-era mines dotting the mountains, and from mountain villagers, who sold the rebels food in exchange for American dollars. The IMU made its first move on August 3, 1999, when twenty-one rebels took control of Zardaly and seized four government and military hostages. The IMU.
Myself are headed for the mountains of Kyrgyzstan for some fun in the sun. I wish you all happy and safe travels this summer and I pledge to do the same. After all, I don’t have to be able to outrun AK-47–toting terrorists—just Beth.” They gain thirteen hundred feet of elevation on the hillside, then moonlight paints the ground silver. Shunning the light and possible detection, the group traverses the hillside sideways. As they move, Caldwell and Rodden see a red light blinking brightly on the.
The American base camp. There the soldiers will find the airline tickets, driver’s licenses, bank cards, and a journal of Smith, Dickey, Rodden, and Caldwell. They’ll also find the Polaroid photo of the couple in the base camp. There is sorrow in Dononbaev’s voice when he tells me that of the soldiers found slaughtered at Mazar and Kurbaka, he had known eight. When he flew in, their bodies were being bagged for removal. “I cried all night after I came to that place. I found the body of a friend.