Alpinisme Hivernal, by Marcel Kurz. Payot, Paris, Second printing, 1928. F. 50.
The reprinting of this justly famous work is a propitious moment to bring it to the attention of our readers. One of the few books written in French on winter mountaineering, and coming from such a well-known writer, it must command the attention of all.
Commencing with a history of winter ascents, the text leads forward naturally to the development of skiing as an appanage of winter mountaineering. The chapters on the Alpine Winter, and Snow and Avalanches, will interest particularly the skier in the Alps, but they contain considerable data for others in less favored regions. He follows Lunn to a great extent and, in fact, quotes him extensively. The chapters on equipment and technique are, of course, much as in other similar books, but M. Kurz offers suggestions from his own wide experience which possess unique value.
The style is easy and fluent throughout and the descriptions are well drawn, but it is the delineations of human character and reactions which lend a particular charm to this book. Who, for instance, could forget that inimitable scene when Chouchou, recovering from his surprise, empties the flask of cognac, or that wild ride down the Vispertal from Stalden with a half “boiled” driver? M. Kurz who has done, probably more than anyone else to open the Pennine Alps to winter mountaineering, tells the story of his own courses with dash and vividness of detail.
The book although well gotten up with large print and good margins, unfortunately is marred by many misspellings and misplaced letters. Despite this, it is well worth having in one’s library and once had, will be read with constant pleasure and enjoyment.
K. A. H.