Book Review: Murder In The High Himalaya – Loyalty, Tragedy, and Escape From Tibet By Jonathan Green
Murder in the High Himalaya by Jonathan Green needs to be on your reading list. This captivating book takes an inside look at a single event on September 30, 2006 that changed the way the world sees both oppressed Tibet and the world of mountaineering.
In 2006, the Tibetan year of the Fire Dog, Kelsang Namtso and her best friend decided to join a group of fleeing Tibetans destined to escape Chinese rule and oppression in Tibet. They wanted to escape over the Himalaya to see Tibet’s exiled ruler, the Dalai Lama, and to practice religious freedom. It seemed like a simple plan, but it went terribly wrong.
Many Tibetans attempt to escape Tibet via one of the many escape routes over the Himalayas. Led by mountain guides called “snakeheads” they head over dangerous mountain passes riddled with cold temps, crevasses, avalanches, and the ominous presence of the Chinese military. It’s a dangerous journey, but freedom calls.
Namtso’s group was led over the Nangpa La, a “fabled passage for traders,” smugglers, and refugees. This path of ice is one of the more dangerous routes over the mountains as it traverses at 19,000 feet – just a short distance from one of the expedition climbing base camps on Cho Oyu (8,201 meters).
When Nepal is finally within sight, the Chinese military makes an aggressive move, firing shots at the fleeing Tibetans without warning. Kelsang Namtso, a 17-year-old nun is killed during the event. Several escapees make it to Nepal and others are rounded up by the Chinese border patrol.
The entire atrocity was witnessed by climbers from around the world as they geared up for a summit push on Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world. It was even videoed by Romanian Sergiu Matei. Finally there were witnesses to China’s oppressive rule over Tibet.
Instead of loudly opposing the event, the climbers mostly kept quiet. Many continued on with their summit push ignoring the blatant murder that they just witnessed.
Eventually Luis Benetiz leaked the story to ExWeb, a mountaineering focused website, but feared his safety until he left the country. Other climbers remain quiet about the event to this day. But why? Fear of an oppressive regime? Fear of being able to safely leave the country? Or a fear of never being allowed to return to their mountain sanctuary, the Himalaya? Each climber has their own reasons. This book takes an interesting look at this dark side of mountaineering.
Ultimately the story leaked to the mainstream media. The video snuck on to YouTube, articles were published, and finally there was eye-witness proof of brutal Chinese oppression in Tibet. The event stirred up world wide attention to the Free Tibet movement and China’s oppressive rule, yet it was shrouded in secrecy.
The true beauty of this book is Green’s attention to detail. His journalistic skills dig deep to find in-depth background information and intriguing facts. Green goes beyond the call of duty and delivers a fast paced book that sheds light on two main topics – the dark side of mountaineering and the reality of life in Tibet.
Murder in the High Himalaya is a book that everyone needs to read. Thank you for an excellent and insightful book Mr. Green. Looking forward to your next book already.
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Murder In The High Himalaya – Loyalty, Tragedy, and Escape From Tibet By Jonathan Green
Format: E-Book & Paperback