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Snow on the Equator

Snow on the Equator, by H. W. Tilman. 265 pages, with 20 illustrations and 4 maps. New York : Macmillan, 1938. Price $3.00. Writers of travel and mountaineering books are especially apt to be single book authors, for to produce a second successful story requires more than common ability. In Snow on the Equator the leader of the last Everest expedition steps out of the single volume class and shows that The Ascent of Nanda Devi was not a flash in the pan.

The story this time only occasionally concerns itself with mountains and never describes a formal mountaineering venture. Instead, the mountains are described merely as holiday “playgrounds” enjoyed by Tilman during the vacations of fourteen years as a Kenya colonist. Ascents of Kilimanjaro, Kenya, Ruwenzori and other peaks are described, but these separate enterprises lack the continuity of purpose of the Nanda Devi venture. Indeed the major fault of the whole volume seems to be similar lack of coherence, though the style and humor of the narrative is often of a high order. Some of the better parts describe making a coffee plantation in the Kenya bush, hunting elephants and rhino, and prospecting for gold. The final section describes the author’s adventures in riding a bicycle 3000 miles across Africa from Uganda to the Cameroons.

Snow on the Equator, which is more of a travel than a mountaineering book, has a neat style and often delightful humor. If you don’t object to a somewhat disorganized narrative, you will enjoy this straightforward account of what an imaginative man of great hardihood and endurance will do during fourteen years in the Dark Continent.

R. H. B.