SNEWS® Live: New book reveals Cold War espionage in the Himalaya

Author and climber Pete Takeda spins a true-life tale of a plutonium-powered spy device lost on Nanda Devi in his new book, "Eye at the Top of the World." SNEWS® Live spoke with Takeda at the most recent Ouray Ice Festival.
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SNEWS® Live: Toward the late '60s, the CIA recruited and trained a group of climbers for a top-secret mission. The men were tasked with deploying two plutonium-powered listening devices on the summits of twin Himalayan peaks. The goal was to spy on China, a nation whose nuclear ambitions potentially threatened the safety of America during the Cold War.

Unfortunately, the mission went awry when one of the devices was lost in an avalanche on India's Nanda Devi. After several attempts to recover it, the device and its plutonium power source still remain buried somewhere near the headwaters of the Ganges River.

While it sounds likes the plotline of an Ian Fleming spy novel, the events of this CIA operation were real, and are the subject of a new book by Pete Takeda, Rock & Ice magazine's senior contributing editor. Called an "Eye at the Top the World," Takeda's book reveals in great detail the story behind the men, the mission and the mountain. Takeda met with SNEWS® Live during the 2007 Ouray Ice Festival in Ouray, Colo., to fill us in on the intriguing story.

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