American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

The Adventure of a Mountaineer

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  • Publication Year: 1941

The Adventures of a Mountaineer, by Frank Smythe. 8 vo.; 217 pages, with 17 illustrations and brief appendix.

From youthful strolls in the Lake District and North Wales we follow the climbing career of Frank Smythe as he treads Dolomite limestone, Chamonix ice and granite, and finally the great snow peaks of the Himalayas. The Adventures of a Mountaineer is a condensed and slightly different version of much that has appeared in print before. It is written in language any layman can understand, but it tells of ascents that hold the mountaineer’s attention. Parts of the book are greatly compressed, for Smythe tries to answer the question, “Why climb mountains?” discuss solitary climbing, analyze techniques on rock and snow, and yet concentrate on the more eventful experiences of a rich climbing career. Smythe is not a person who can complain that “nothing ever happens to me”; too often there is an unseen being on his rope or he feels that there is some ghostly presence near him. He is also fully aware when he does a good thing. And he does good things; many of them. We hear of the route he and Dr. Brown made up the Brenva ridges of Mont Blanc, of the International High Altitude Expedition to Kangchenjunga, and of his part in the 1933 Everest expedition when he reached 28,000 ft. More sensational are his description of being pulled from a belay on the Grohmannspitze, being struck by lightning on the Schreckhorn, falling 50 ft. in an ice gully during his spectacular ascent of the Aiguille du Plan with J. H. B. Bell, and being swept over a big crevasse in the grip of an avalanche on Kamet. Ho, hum, wonder what he will do next ?

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