American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

The Unknown Mountain

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  • Publication Year: 1949

The Unknown Mountain, by Don Munday. 8vo., 268 pp., photographs and map. London, 1948: Hodder and Stoughton, Ltd. Price, 21/-.

The story of the exploration of the Mount Waddington area of the British Columbia Coast range has long called for a book; and it is fitting that it should be written by the one man who, with his wife, was responsible for opening up this important and interesting region to mountaineers. This book is a personal narrative of the Mundays’ many journeys into the Coast Range, starting with Butte Inlet on their first venture, then the intensive exploration of the glaciers and peaks of the Franklin Valley, the eastern approach to Mount Waddington on Henry Hall’s expedition from Williams Lake, and finally their journeys into the practically unknown Klina-Klina valley a short distance to the north. The story of their efforts is honestly and effectively told. Climbers who have shared their experiences with Coast Range weather, topography and vegetation will appreciate the accuracy and straightforwardness of the narrative.

From the standpoint of mountain exploration, the gradual unfolding of this mountain system under the painstaking and ceaseless efforts of the Mundays, the slow building up of the true picture from many fragments, is a fascinating tale in itself. Rarely has it fallen to the lot of two people to carry through the exploration of a large and complex mountain range and to present it as a vivid and dramatic personal history.

Although the point is covered in the Preface, one feels that the story might have been more complete had the efforts of other parties in this region been given more than casual mention. While all the expeditions other than the Mundays’ were primarily mountaineering trips with the sole aim of climbing the main summit of Mount Waddington, these still have their place in the story of the exploration of the area—especially since it was Mount Waddington itself which first attracted the Mundays, and since seeking practical approaches and finally making several attempts remained major aims in the Mundays’ many visits to the region. One feels that the climbing parties which followed in the Munday’s footsteps are dismissed as intruders, although not a one of them would fail to acknowledge its debt to the real pioneers.

All in all, as a story of one of the outstanding mountain explorations of recent times, this book ranks as an important one and a real addition to mountain literature.

William P. House

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