ANNAPURNA II. By R. H. Grant. William Kimber, London. 1961. Pp. 192. Price 30s.
THE LAST OF THE ANNAPURNAS. By M. S. Kohli. Publications Division, Government of India. 1962. Pp. 143. Price Rs. 12/50.

Herzog's account of the ascent of Annapurna I in 1950 has probably never been matched for melodrama in mountaineering literature. But since the breaking of the 8,000 m. barrier, accounts of big Himalayan climbs have grown gradually less dramatic, and heroic accounts now belong to a former age. The emphasis is more on a factual workaday description of events ; or on perceptive impressions of people and places with some element of adventure added.

Here are two books, both falling roughly into the former category ; they have much in common, and yet they differ in many ways. Both describe Services' expeditions to the Annapurna Range in Nepal in 1960 and 1961. Both were successful. But two widely different images of the country are created. The presentation in one case is more or less conventional; in the other it is rather original. One party suffered from occasional petty conflicts and dissensions ; the other was marked by an extraordinary camaraderie. Both had their troubles with the locals; and in one case quite a serious situation developed and troops were sent in to protect the party.

The four Annapurnas, on the whole, appear to have fallen rather easily, nearly all at the first attempt. Once Annapurna IV was climbed in 1955, the route to Annapurna II was open, though obviously not easy. As to Annapurna III, it had never been reconnoitred before, and the choice of route appears to have fallen rather obviously on the northern approach, based upon advice given by Roberts and others.

The blurb on the Annapurna II dust-cover describes the mountain as one of the most difficult in the world to climb ; a claim that is highly exaggerated, to say the least. Apart from a mixture of British Services, the expedition comprised groups from the Indian and Nepalese armies. With such a large and heterogeneous party, it does great credit to the leader, Lt.-Col. Jimmy Roberts, that congenial relations on the whole were maintained. It was a pity that the leader was prevented by sickness from directing operations personally at the higher camps. The route was well chosen ; it steered clear of the main objective dangers, and with the exception of one or two steep ice-pitches was devoid of any major technical difficulty. The party were not particularly fortunate with the weather, being forced initially to spend almost one month from mid-March to mid-April confined to their Base Camp. A further short spell resting and recuperating at Base described under the captionMountain Vacation' is probably the best-written chapter in the book.

The summit attempt and final climb, although recorded in some detail, the author being one of the summit party with Chris Bonnington and the Sherpa Ang Nyima, does not contain a single description of a technical nature. It is refreshing to find three Sherpas climbing Annapurna IV on an off-day from Camp V purely for the fun of the thing. The writing is surprisingly naive ; and the phraseology is sometimes poor. Temperatures, for example, do not' become colderThe illustrations are of poor quality and are badly placed in the text. Until colour photographs can be as efficiently and economically reproduced as black and white plates, those intending to publish expedition books should concentrate on black and white photography for their illustrations.

The author of The Last of the Anna pumas describes his story with the sort of wide-eyed wonder that would have been more common fifteen years ago. Such writing can sometimes betray a forced enthusiasm; and, if carried to an extreme degree, can seriously mar the authenticity of the story. The initial reconnaissance was confined to a choice between two possible lines-up the North and the East ice-falls. The former was chosen, said to be more difficult than Everest's Khumbu ice-fall and more than twice its height-the Khumbu ice-fall is credited with a height of 3,300 feet, whilst this one is given 8,000 feet. But the party obviously did not encounter any technical difficulties up to the northern shelf, which is described as an 6 expansive white paddy-field. Above the paddy- field, it is not made clear what line was followed. It would have seemed highly dangerous to traverse the north face beneath large overhanging seracs ; but, apparently, this is what was done. However, there was no mishap ; and a party of three duly reached the summit, where they ' had to go through the usual formalities' before commencing the descent. The latter provided one of the main adventures on the mountain, and the party did very well to return safely to their top camp in a blizzard.

The expedition had serious trouble with the villagers of Man- ganbhot. Their liaison officer could do nothing to help, and was himself clamped into jail for his refusal to support the miscreants. Looters almost denuded the expedition's stores ; but, fortunately, a large part-was recovered after military intervention. The Victory Parade began as soon as the summit party returned to Base, and continued relentlessly all along the return route with garlands and reception committees at Pokhara, Kathmandu and Delhi.

The text is well illustrated by line drawings ; but the quality of the photographs is exceedingly poor, and there is no table of illustrations. When black and white photographs cannot be properly reproduced, it is the height of unwisdom to attempt colour reproduction as the examples in this book will show. Both these books lack adequate maps. Both contain end-papers illustrating the mountain; the route followed on Annapurna II is shown, but that taken on Annapurna III is omitted.

T. H. Braham



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KARAKORAM. By Fosco Maraini. Hutchinson & CoLondon. 1961. Price 60s. Translated from the Italian by James Cadell,

The 1958 Italian expedition to Gasherbrum IV, 26,180 feet, is notable for having overcome climbing difficulties of a severity surpassing anything previously achieved on a major peak. No former attempt had been made to climb Gasherbrum IV, one of the last few unclimbed 8,000 m. peaks (Gasherbrum III, 26,090 feet, is still unattempted). The party had to do all their own porterage along the upper part of the route, which consisted of a steep rock and ice ridge bristling with technical problems classified as Grade IV and above. No oxygen was used. The final climb to the top was made in a gathering storm by the redoubtable Walter Bonatti and Carlo Mauri. The descent was made under exceptionally severe conditions. The summit party was supported by a team of three strong climbers. That, briefly, is the story of the climb. That the climbers were favoured with some element of luck cannot be denied ; but no success is ever attained without luck ; and this particular performance could have been achieved only by climbers of outstanding skill. Both were professional guides.

The author accompanied the expedition as photographer. Mr. Maraini is already well known as an able writer ; but it is the photography that is the main attraction of this book. There are 108 illustrations, several in colour. By far the largest number were taken by the author, and they are of a quality that it would be hard to equal. The pictures not only possess an artistic quality, but also convey exactly the right atmosphere. The reproductions, especially in colour, are the finest I have seen in any mountaineering publication. Many of the pictures illustrating the upper part of the climb, taken by the climbers themselves, have quite a dramatic quality. The author also produced a cine-film of the expedition.

The expedition was unusually large. Over 400 Balti porters were required to transport 7 ½ tons of baggage approximately 137 miles from Skardu to Base Camp on the Baltoro Glacier. That troubles should have developed was not unexpected. A practical solution was eventually found by splitting the party into 13 groups of 30 men each with its own leader—a brain child of the Pakistan army liaison officer, Capt. Dar. Tribute is paid to the Baltis' inherent toughness and resistance to cold. It seems a pity that relations between the party and their liaison officer were so strained. This aspect appears to be rather over-emphasized in the earlier chapters of the book. What appeared to be lacking between the two was mutual trust, possibly due in great measure to the language barrier; none of the members of the party, except Maraini, could speak English. If the party had exercised more understanding, greater respect and friendship would have resulted, to the benefit of both.

The translation from the original Italian is good. There are four good maps—though on the end-papers G. Ill is not shown and the height of G. IV is misprinted as 26,810 feet. There is also a useful bibliography and an index.

T. H. Braham


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