Savage Arena


Savage Arena is one of our all time favourite books. We had no choice but to make it one of our Top Read choices. Please read on to find out why.

If the name Joe Tasker isn’t familiar to you, we hope to change that. Joe was a ground breaking mountaineer of the 70’s and early 80’s. He died on the East-North-East Ridge of Everest in 1982 while forging a new route with his partner Peter Boardman. They were stretching the boundaries of the possible and tragically never returned.

For many years it wasn’t known how they had perished, but in 1992 Pete’s body was discovered just past the second pinnacle (the pinnacles being a difficult section high on the ridge). Although some of his climbing equipment was found between the second and third pinnacle, Joe’s body hasn’t been found. Joe had delivered the manuscript for Savage Arena, his second book, to his publisher on the eve of his departure for the Everest expedition. The book was published posthumously later that year.

The book details his pioneering ascent of Dunagiri and first British winter ascent of the North Face of the Eiger. Savage Arena then continues with a riveting account of his ascent of the West Wall of Changabang with Peter Boardman. This, surely one of the most amazing ascents in the Himalayas, epitomised Joe’s and Pete’s pure approach and raw talent. Finally, Joe details his two unsuccessful attempts on K2.

It is a gritty and honest account of cutting edge adventures accomplished in perfect style. Small teams, full commitment and high consequence. Joe’s writing style draws the reader in and shares the rollercoaster nature of these adventures with honesty and passion.  

The tragic events on Everest add poignancy, but Savage Arena stands as an inspirational and riveting book.  It will be enjoyed by climbers and armchair mountaineers alike.  It is also a story that, by showing what is possible for those who dare, translates into other pursuits.  Savage Arena has recently been republished and is available from Vertebrate Publishing here.  Please do read this book. 

If you enjoy Savage Arena you will undoubtedly also enjoy Winter 8000 by Bernadette McDonald.  Please find out about this here