La Barre des Écrins, by Henri Isselin. 229 pages, with bibliography, 2 orographie maps, 2 sketches, and 18 photographs. Paris 8c Grenoble: Arthaud, 1954.
Henri Isselin says in his preface that his book is just a tale of the many ties which bind men to one of the great Alpine summits. To him “a mountain summit is not just a topographical accident, remarkable only by its form or color. A feeling very akin to friendship rises within us when we see in the distance the silhou ette of a peak to which we are bound by memories of the most worthwhile hours in our lives. Thus a very personal relationship is established between a climber and an individual mass of snow and rock.”
The reader feels throughout this very comprehensive and precise book that it is written with the single-minded passion of a man who loves a mountain. It is an admirably complete study of a great peak. The discovery of the Écrins, its geographic position, its early and later conquerors, its ridges and faces, the various routes and their variations are described with great precision and, wherever possible, with dry humor. For lovers of the Dauphiné the book should prove of special interest, but everyone will enjoy the first chapter about its discovery and its first hardy pioneers. La Barre des Écrins is illustrated by unusually beautiful photographs, mostly by the author himself.