American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Les Montagnes du Monde

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  • Publication Year: 1949

Les Montagnes du Monde. Publié par la Fondation Suisse pour l’Exploration Alpine, Zürich. Lausanne: F. Rouge et Cie. Vol. I, 1946. Vol. II, 1947. Also, an edition in German, Berge der Welt. The institute which puts out these volumes has for its purpose sending out or assisting mountain expeditions. As part of its program it is publishing this mountain yearbook, intended to report not only on its own work, but also on important climbs and mountain studies performed by anyone anywhere. Volume I (254 pages, 40 plates) was edited by André Roch. Volume II (239 pages, 56 plates) gives no editor’s name. Among the corresponding editors are our members Mrs. Wade Martin and Bradford Washburn. The volumes are attractively printed and bound, and the illustrations, particularly in the 1947 annual, are superb.

The 1946 annual, doubtless because of lack of material from the rest of the world at that time, devotes 150-odd pages to the Alps. It includes also an account of a 1929 Caucasus expedition; a scientific article on avalanches and one on altitude physiology; some pages of notes and news; and Part One of an essay by Marcel Kurz on the chronology of altitude records attained by men on foot, from the classical period to the present. This very interesting study seems to be the result of enormous research. For the earlier ascents the evidence is analyzed, and for the later the published accounts are abstracted. According to Kurz the first 7000-metre summit to be reached was Shilla, in 1860. It is interesting to note that 68 years later the highest peak yet attained was only 102 metres higher, Pk. Lenin. Of course, long before that men had reached greater altitudes on mountains they failed to conquer. It would have been helpful if a bibliography could have been appended. One would like to read more about some of these ascents; but, as no references are given, to do so would, in many cases, mean a long hunt.

In the 1947 annual a full account of the Swiss Himalaya expedition of 1947 occupies about a third of the volume. This group made some fine first ascents, notably Kedarnath, Satopanth and Nanda Ghunti. Another third is taken up by the concluding part of the Kurz chronology of ascents and by a summary, also by Kurz, of Himalayan climbing, 1939-46. This includes a rather full account of the second American K2 expedition. The remaining third is occupied by brief notes on climbs in various ranges and miscellaneous news.

There is room for a review of mountain activities, either annual or more frequent, which is not the organ of a climbing club, and is international in its outlook. It is not yet clear whether this publication is going to fill the bill. These two volumes deal almost entirely with the Alps and the Himalaya, and the writers are mostly Swiss. Probably the difficulties of any beginning, and of these unfavorable times, may he the cause of this limitation. The list of articles planned for the 1949 annual shows a wider range. These are very interesting volumes. There is every indication of a serious effort toward a high standard. The present reviewer makes no attempt to assess the quality of the work, or the accuracy of the statements. He merely reports that those articles which he read he liked.

Nathaniel L. Goodrich

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