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Sur les Traces de Premier de Cordée

Sur les Traces de Premier de Cordée, by R. Frison-Roche. 15 pages of text and 10 pages of commentaries on the photographs, with 59 photographs in black and white and 22 in color by Georges Tairraz. Paris and Grenoble: B. Arthaud, 1952.

Another magnificent volume has been added to the marvelous “Collection Belles Pages—Belles Couleurs.” To those already familiar with the picture books brought out in the same series on the French expeditions to Annapurna and Nanda Devi, nothing further need be said about the beauty of the fine photographs and the interesting texts which accompany them. The present volume is indeed a worthy addition to the earlier works. The photographs, well taken and well chosen, give an excellent view of the peaks around Mont Blanc and of all phases of life in the Chamonix Valley. Emphasis falls quite naturally on mountaineering pictures, to which two-thirds of the volume is dedicated. Unlike some collections of climbing photographs which convince the reader that supermen alone can undertake the sport, this book shows both the difficult and the less difficult. The introductory text, by Frison-Roche, is as well written and as interesting as one might expect from the pen of the author of First on the Rope. The writer describes how as a lowlander he first came to the mountains where he has made his mark and has been accepted as a guide in Chamonix. He traces the valley’s early history as Campus Munitus, the closed-in valley, and tells of the first explorations carried on in the mountains. The last part of the book deals with the life of the typical guide of yesterday and contrasts it to the rather hectic existence of the present-day member of the Compagnie des Guides. Here indeed is a splendid volume to bring back happy days spent in the French Alps.

H. A. C.