Étoiles et Tempêtes, by Gaston Rébuffat. 146 pages, 37 photographs, 6 sketches. Paris: B. Arthaud, 1954. Price, 850 Fr.
“A guide loves difficulty, but detests danger. … Great dreams are better than souvenirs. … In climbing, one’s companion is as important as one’s goal. … Wind, snow, and cold are not the climber’s enemies, merely his obstacles.” With such bits of his philosophy, this great Chamonix guide sprinkles his descriptions of the most hair-raising routes in the Alps. The lad from Marseilles who found that he had such a passion for mountains that he had to make them his whole life fairly bubbles over with the joys of the career he has chosen — “the most beautiful of professions.”
Six great north faces provide the scene for this series of grim mountaineering struggles. The unavoidable bivouacs and “the bad weather that always seems to pair with great enterprises” provide the title. There is a modesty throughout that is sure to please the Anglo-Saxon reader. Rébuffat in one account describes with admiration the performance of a Dolomite guide whom he is content to follow; in another he mentions a slip held by his tourist, while in all he pays full respect to the pioneers who blazed these trails, often laying down their lives in the process. No knowledge of French is required to enjoy the numerous photographs by the author and the sketches indicating these famous routes.
Roger S. Whitney