MOUNT EVEREST-Thorn der Gotter. By K. M. Herrlig-
koffer-Spectrum Verlog, Stuttgart.
This is a most beautifully produced publication-in the style of the "Mountain World"-lavish with photographs and historical recapitulation of past expeditions.
Its main aim of course is to describe the first European Mount Everest Expedition, 1972 (why have an Iranian member?!).
The photographs, without exception, are excellent-some of them, I would expect, should have acknowledgment as they obviously are not from the expedition members.
The map on the inside cover is a beautiful reproduction of a part of the well-known Erwin Schneider map of Khumbu Himal.
The text is in German-a translation would be welcome. The past history is well told and can serve as a concise account of Everest expeditions to date-also available in tabular form at the end of the book.
It is when you come to the actual account of the 1972 adventure that you start having reservations, for the script is far too personal. There is nothing wrong with this if you also give an impression of a little restraint. Dr. Herrligkoffer has extremely strong likes and dislikes-some of his feelings had best remain out of print-it does not enhance the value of the narrative nor does it do credit to the author. Having said this, I cannot in truth call it uninteresting. Objective judgment becomes difficult as the reader realises that multinational expeditions are good things, but definitely not for Everest-the stakes for fame are too high and it is not possible to gather a team of saints.
Soli S. Mehta
KAMPF UND SIEG AM NAGA PARBAT. By K. M. Herrligkoffer-Spectrum Verlog, Stuttgart.
This publication is along similar lines as the one reviewed above-the map and photographs again excellent. The diagrams, routes and details marked on the photographs are most helpful in following the progress of expeditions past and present. Dr. Herrligkoffer has taken great pains to explain his side of the controversy which has raged after the death of Gunther Messaner.
To be fair, I have some sympathy for the leader who is faced with such a predicament-it is always easy by hindsight to level charges of maladministration, but in the mountains, people behave slightly abnormally anyway under the stresses and strains of high altitude survival. It is a pity that such a high proportion of expeditions led by Dr. Herrligkoffer have ended in controversies and in some cases with court action-surely one does not join expeditions to enact the final part of the adventure in the court room. However, the controversy apart, I would recommend this very useful book and look forward to its translation into English.
Soli S. Mehta
TREK THE HIMALAYAS. By Commander M. S. Kohli, Copyright Air-India International.
This compact publication has been brought out by Air-India in order to enlighten would-be trekkers on the possibilities in the Himalaya. The purpose is served admirably. I am sure that not only should this encourage foreign tourists to venture into the mountains but also reveal the beauties of the Himalayan country to the eager youth of India and tempt them into more fruitful adventures.
Mohan Kohli writes with facility and there is no doubt about his sincerity and love for the mountains - a correct blend of respect and the humbling power of nature.
The text is full of information that one would ask for in the first place-the best time, availability of transport, food and porters-most important, where to go.
My only doubts about this mine of information is whether the author could not have omitted reference to climbing-those who wish to climb need a separate kind of guide book and it is long overdue; but to tempt the would be trekker to climb or the climber to trek does tend to dilute the total effect of the publications.
The photographs-without meaning to sound superior-I must say that I was most pleasantly surprised at the quality (Kohli's "Nine Atop Everest" and the foul reproductions in it was constantly in my mind-thank God he has had better luck (his time!). I think that for a booklet of this size, the photographs are too many-some of them repetitions and some with wrong titles (a part of the proof-reader's negligence which un- fortunately abounds in plenty throughout the book). Still, they are all worth looking at.
Sketch maps-adequate for the purpose of illustrating the areas -some of them I have seen for the first time. A good deal of attention has been paid to their preparation and should serve as models for similar publications in the future.
Mohan Kohli and Air-India need to be congratulated for their effort in encouraging both trekking and tourism.
Soli S. Mehta
HIMALAYAN ODYSSEY. By Trevor Braham-George Allen
and Unwin Ltd. (£6.50).
What a lovely book this is-Trevor Braham is a much travelled mountaineer and he has quite an endearing style of presenting his experiences. He has also been lucky to have the chances of travel that not many climbers can have - needless to say, he grasps each of them with both hands and keeps adding to his vast store of experience and knowledge.
The book is also his personal testament on mountaineering- he is, in fact, a more complete mountaineer than most of the peak bagging, high climbing virtuoso rock-and-ice climbers of to-day. He is gracious enough to find them a place in the sun but manages to retain his individuality and his resolve to extract more out of the mountain environment than they ever can-he is a true mountain lover with a strain of exploration thrown in for good measure.
He has covered the high ranges of the Indian Sub-continent- Sikkim, Nepal, Garhwal, Kulu, Karakoram bordering almost on to the Hindu Kush. Each expedition chapter commences with a geographical description followed by a historical and a political account; then comes a brief note on previous expeditions and early exploration finally swinging into his own adventures.
The book is well provided with maps and the endpapers have each a different map (Bravo!). The selection of photographs is about the only bone I can pick with this publication-the author must surely have an enviable collection of high mountain scenes -some of them could have been included here to make this the mountain book of the year.
Soli S. Mehta
THE HIMALAYAN HANDBOOK-An annotated index of the named peaks over 6095m. (19,998 ft) of Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent-Volume I A-K. Published privately by Joydeep Sircar, 1/6, Fakir Ghosh Lane, Calcutta 700-035. Rs. 8.00.
This booklet is obviously a labour of love and Mr. Sircar has put in a great deal of homework. The peaks are catalogued alphabetically and a very short note on ascents and attempts have been given for each. Expeditions upto 1970 have been included.
The whole exercise to my mind is too big a job to be tackled by a single person. It would be a useful exercise to concentrate on a particular area, say, Kulu or Garhwal and cover the climbing activities in greater detail with decent sketch maps, so that the reader could be tempted to fill gaps in his knowledge and perhaps help enlarge the following editions.
However the die has been cast and far be it for me to carp at the result. The book will be a useful reference, and I for one shall certainly use it as such. There are some factual errors, but generally the annoying printers devils are heartening'y few.
This kind of work can never end and I do wish Joydeep all the best in his endeavours-the torch that he has lit will have to be carried in the years to come. One last suggestion-reference to the source of information would be greatly appreciated by those readers who might want to obtain more detailed information from the full published account.
Soli S. Mehta
MY CLIMBS IN THE ALPS AND CAUCASUS. By A. F.
Another mountaineering classic has caught the eye of the publisher-a most welcome reprint of the 1896 edition of Mummery's account of his exploits in the Alps and on Dych Tan.
So this is what climbing in the Alps was like at the turn of the century. Codes of ethic and discipline beginning to emerge- some too rigid and straightjacketted, some patently absurd and some worth retaining and developing. Mummery expounds on his personal set of values and flays the powers that be in the Alpine Club when the need arises-this, the last chapter can perhaps be as relevant today as it wras then.
What one finds most refreshing is the beautiful prose-alas almost absent in English literature of today-taking his time at the correct choice of words to realise from them just the shade of meaning he wishes to express. Obviously a fun loving person he has sprinkled his account with priceless example of the famous British understatement. His sense of humour also keeps him company during his climbs.
One does not need to introduce Mummery as a climber-his outstanding feats and first ascents stand as a sufficient evidence to his ability-the Grepon on the Chamonix Aiguilles, the Grand1 Charmoz, the Dent du Requin-to quote only a few.
This is a particularly readable book and an ideal gift to a mountain lover. Quarterman Publications deserve our thanks in- bringing it back to life.
Soli S. Mehta