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Tag: Mount Everest

Everest – The West Ridge

First published after the successful American Everest Expedition of 1963, Everest – The West Ridge documents the team’s journey with narratives by Thomas Hornbein and awesome photography by several other members of the group. Along with the paperback, there are a few different editions available, the most recent being a 50th Anniversary hardcover version (in a rare yard sale find, I lucked out and found a 1st Edition published by the Sierra Club, which features higher quality prints).

The 1963 expedition became an important part of Everest’s mountaineering history – not just for having Americans make the summit, but for showing that the summit could be made via the West Ridge. Along with the book, it was also documented for National Geographic’s magazine and video series.

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Recent Publications for the Adventurers

The Ice Balloon, by Alec Wilkinson. In 1897, a Swedish man by the name of S.A. Andrée famously made an attempt to explore the Arctic in a large balloon – he and his team did not make it (perished) but the diaries and photographs later recovered from their last camp are pieced together with other source material by the author for a fascinating story.

Into the Silence, by Wade Davis. George Mallory only has a small role in this historical recount of early expeditions to Mt. Everest, as the author also writes about other mountaineering personalities of the time who were important in the exploration of the mountain and nearby regions. In an interesting approach, he also ties in the impact that WW1 had on each of the men.

South Pole: The British Antarctic Expedition 1910–1913, by Christine Dell’Amore. To coincide with the centenaries of several Antarctic expeditions, publishers have released a steady supply of related books over the past two years – in the photography category, Assouline’s book stands at the forefront for best page layout and design with great writing by the author summarizing Captain Scott’s attempt to reach the South Pole. Should money be no object, it’s also available in an oversized $1k edition, or $3k if you want it waterproofed (apparently publishers will do these sorts of things after members of royalty write the book introductions).

The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott, by David M. Wilson. This is a more than just a picture book, as the author writes extensively on the subjects of the photos and how they fit into the overall expedition. The photos are also published in the order which they were taken (sorted with the help of diaries recovered), and you can get an understanding of how bleak things increasingly become for Captain Scott and his men.

Side Notes

Into The Silence included a few pages of small photos, a few of which I hadn’t seen before. It would be great to see an author and publisher work together to release a photography book focusing on the pictures taken during the early Mt. Everest expeditions, as I’m sure there is lots of unpublished material available in the Royal Geographical Society’s archives.

A handful of the portraits shown in South Pole: The British Antarctic Expedition 1910–1913 which were among my favorite pictures included.


The 1921 Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition

After World War 1 ended, there was a renewed interest in conquering Mount Everest, particularly among the British adventuring set that had lost out on reaching the North and South Poles first. In order to help finance and organize summit attempts, the Royal Geographical Society and Alpine Club created the Mount Everest Committee which consisted of ranking members of both groups.

As maps and general information about Mount Everest were lacking at the time, the first expedition was setup in 1921 for the purpose of surveying possible routes up to the peak. The group consisted of nine men, George Mallory among them, and a journal recounting their explorations was published not long after their return to England. It can be read online thanks to Google Books.

Members of the expedition, clockwise from the top left: Wollaston, Howard-Bury, Heron, Raeburn, Mallory, Wheeler, Bullock, and Morshead. Not pictured – the ninth man, Dr. Kellas, passed away while en route to the mountain.

Some parts of the introduction by Sir Francis Younghusband are quite good:

It stands to reason that men with any zest for mountaineering could not possibly allow Mount Everest to remain untouched. The time, the opportunity, the money, the ability to make the necessary preliminary preparation might be lacking, but the wish and the will to stand on the summit of the world’s highest mountain must have been in the heart of many a mountaineer since the Alps have been so firmly trampled under foot. The higher climbers climb, the higher they want to climb. It is certain that they will never rest content till the proudest peaks of the Himalaya are as subdued and tamed as the once dreaded summits of the Alps now are.

In the second half of the book, Mallory describes his explorations of the Northern Approach and climbing up to the North Col, which would later become a standard route for mountaineers to take. In one section he also describes his first view of Mount Everest:

It was a prodigious white fang excrescent from the jaw of the world. We saw Mount Everest not quite sharply defined on account of a slight haze in that direction; this circumstance added a touch of mystery and grandeur; we were satisfied that the highest of mountains would not disappoint us. And we learned one fact of great importance: the lower parts of the mountain were hidden by the range of nearer mountains clearly shown in the map running North from the Nila La and now called the Gyanka Range, but it was possible to distinguish all that showed near Everest beyond them by a difference in tone, and we were certain that one great rocky peak appearing a little way to the left of Everest must belong to its near vicinity.

It’s only unfortunate that the maps that Mallory and Bullock produced weren’t included in the scan of this particular book. Continue reading more.

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