Manuel D’Alpinisme. Two volumes, 8 vo. Chambéry : Librairie Dardel, 1934.
With the evolution of Alpinism rapidly going on, the technic of mountain climbing is progressively more complex. It is natural then that new books on Alpine craft should appear periodically and, as a matter of fact, they do.
The “Manuel D’Alpinisme” is the latest such presentation and comes as a joint product of members of the C. A. F. and the G. H. M. The principle of collaboration, laudable if not new, adds to the value of the book, and explains at the same time some obvious inequalities in the manner of treatment and intrinsic value of the various chapters.
In Vol. 2 which covers the technical part, the general principles of climbing are dealt with profusely, although occasionally such important topics as the scale of difficulty (at least for the use of the Alpine guide-books) receive little more than passing remarks. Every phase of equipment is adequately covered with the possible exception of the question of water-proof clothing and bivouac equipment. This important topic is also vaguely dealt with in the chapter on hygiene. In both volumes one feels the need of more and better pictures in place of prolix verbal descriptions.
The technic of rock-climbing is minutely described; in fact even overdone, as in the case of the amusing mathematical consideration of the adhesion of the sole of the shoes related to the inclination of the holds. The part dealing with special procedures and artificial means of rock-climbing would hardly satisfy a Dolomitic acrobat, but is more than sufficient for a beginner. The description of ice technic is concise but clear and complete. The chapter on the dangers of the mountain is fortunately shorter than in similar publications and does not appear (as such topics often do) as a long obituary list. The few pages on ski technic are wholly insufficient and useless either for a skier or mountaineerand should be completed or omitted. The pages on food and food preparations are a precious contribution to the culinary science, if we forgive the author the undeserved denunciation of fats as poor food in the mountains. Some of the recipes have the long-forgotten flavor of the solitude of mountain huts that one could enjoy in the days when the flood of tourists and would-be climbers had not yet gone above the limit of vegetation.
Vol. I deals with the scientific part and is generally very good. It is a collection of various data on geology, glaciology, mineralogy, meterology, topography, photography and geography as applied to climbing, related in a clear and interesting way. It is a most valuable addition to the literature of mountain technic.
M. M. S.