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Everest: A summit of human achievement

This sumptously produced volume marks 50 years of the historic first successful climb to Mount Everest in 1953.

india Updated: Jun 27, 2003 11:01 IST
Suman Tarafdar
Suman Tarafdar

Summit of Achievement

Stephen Venables
Royal Geographical Society, Lustre books / Roli Books
Pages: 252
Price: £35
ISBN: 81-7436-257-6

Mountaineering is challenge as few others that humans have sought to surmount – spectacularly beautiful, remote, wild, absolutely silent beyond a certain altitude. And the reward, at least in the beginning was just that – having reached the top, without any commercial strings attached.

This sumptuous coffee table book has been brought out on the occasion of the fiftieth year of the first, momentous and successful climb to the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. Brought out by the Royal Geographical Society, the organization that sponsored that trip, the book enormously benefits from its archives. Not just is there a delectable collection of images, there is also invaluable and rarely seen data that supplements the texts ably.

However this is not a book for the student of the art of mountaineering. But for the average reader, this is a great introduction. The five chapters of this book are written by experts in their fields and there is foreword by the first ‘conqueror’ of Everest, Edmund Hillary and a message from the Dalai Lama.

The first chapter introduces the mountain, - and its various aspects. A brief note on why the range – the abode of snow an gods, remained unattainable for so long. It also notes the developments during the British rule that brought the climb that much nearer each time – the Great Trigonometrical Survey, the political concessions, the announcement in 1856 that Everest was indeed the highest peak in the world and goes right up to the first attempt in 1921.

Two chapters deal with the climb, one up to 1953 and the other from then. The initial climbs are detailed – the heartbreaking climb by Mallory and Irvine in particular.

The chapters on the local approaches to Everst and Sherpas add the local flavour.

Steeply priced, this is otherwise a great book for those interested in the history of the mountain.

First Published: Jun 27, 2003 10:32 IST