The story of a climbing adventure gone wrong in a remote Alaskan mountain range, the impossible rescue attempt that followed, and the fraught cost of survival
In 2018, two couples set out on an expedition to Alaska’s Hidden Mountains, one of the last wild ranges in North America. A rarity in modern climbing, the peaks were nearly unexplored and untouched, a place where few people had ever visited and granite spires still awaited first ascents. Inspired by generations of daring alpinists before them, the four friends were now compelled to strike out into uncharted territory themselves.
This trip to the Hidden Mountains would be the culmination of years of climbing together, promising to test the foursome’s skill and dedication to the sport. But as they would soon discover, no amount of preparation can account for the unknowns of true wilderness. As they neared the top of an unclimbed peak, rockfall grievously injured one of the team while he was out of sight, leaving him stranded and in critical condition.
Over the course of the next nine hours, the other three climbers worked to reach their companion. What followed was a pulse-pounding rescue attempt by Alaska’s elite pararescue jumpers in one of the most remote regions in the country—raising difficult questions about wilderness accessibility, technology’s role in outdoor adventure, and what it means to weigh risk against the siren song of the mountains.
With visceral prose, Michael Wejchert recounts the group’s rescue and traces the scars left in the wake of life-altering trauma. Weaving the history and evolution of rock and alpine climbing with outside tales of loss and survival in the mountains, Wejchert gives a full picture of the reward—and cost—of following your passions in the outdoors.
Michael Wejchert is a writer and climbing guide. He has climbed rock, ice, and alpine routes all over the world, and writes about climbing and adventure for Alpinist, Adventure Journal, Climbing, and the New York Times. The chair of New Hampshire’s storied Mountain Rescue Service, he lives with his wife and climbing partner in the heart of the White Mountains.
"An exquisitely told, harrowing true tale interwoven with a rich history of climbing and a thoughtful look at the risks and rewards of adrenaline-filled escapades." — People
“Wejchert’s storytelling…is precise and gripping…I read the book cover to cover in just a few hours…Hidden Mountains is about what happens during and after a rescue. It’s about living through a nightmare scenario—and then living with yourself after...Certain authors are poised to write of certain events, and Michael Wejchert found his with Hidden Mountains…Compelling.” — Climbing
"An accomplished rock and ice climber with extensive experience in exploratory mountaineering, Mr. Wejchert proves to be an able guide...[relating] the gripping, heroic details...[and] the book's heart-wrenching dénouement." — Wall Street Journal
“A gripping account of a disastrous climbing trip gone wrong and the harrowing rescue attempt that followed…Narrated with an intensity that grabs readers from the start…Moving…A hard-to-put-down tale of tenacity, bravery, and friendship in the face of staggering odds.” — Kirkus
"A compelling, page-turning story." — Library Journal
“With prose so radiant and immediate it seems almost translucent, Michael Wejchert brings readers deep into the hidden places of the wildest mountains and the human heart.”
— Katie Ives, author of Imaginary Peaks: The Riesenstein Hoax and Other Mountain Dreams
“Climbing can be an addiction, its pursuit as dangerous as any drug and with similar consequences: broken lives from broken bodies and the sadness survivors suffer from the early death of loved ones. Filled with empathy and understanding, Hidden Mountains is the best account of modern mountaineering’s risk I’ve read.”
— Roman Dial, author of The Adventurer’s Son
“Hidden Mountains is essential reading for anyone interested in climbing or the outdoors. A deftly-written, cautionary tale, Michael Wejchert brings the climbing experience to life, revealing its history and culture to help us understand how every decision must be made with great discipline.” — Norman Ollestad, author of Crazy for the Storm
"With unvarnished prose and deep humanity, Hidden Mountains tells a different kind of adventure story, one that’s been all too often overlooked by real-life risk-takers and armchair mountaineers alike. It’s both a gripping rescue tale and an original mediation on the ultimate price of following your passion.” — Freddie Wilkinson, filmmaker and author of One Mountain Thousand Summits
“Hidden Mountains is a masterfully layered and deeply moving book that takes us to the heart of human adventure – and to the devastating sorrow that sits alongside the beauty of risk. Haunting, inspiring, and unforgettable.”
— Kelly Cordes, author of The Tower
“Compelling…exactly the person to tell [this story]….He does so with expertise and with heart.” — Hippo
"A masterpiece of adventure writing, solidly grounded in both factual details and empathetic understandings of human motivations." — Anchorage Daily News