American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

The Mountain World 1955

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  • Publication Year: 1956

The Mountain World 1955. English version edited by Malcolm Barnes. 222 pages, 64 illustrations, 24 maps. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1955. Price $6.00.

The third annual volume published by the Swiss Research Foundation is even better than its predecessors—high praise indeed. These books have become essential reading for everyone interested in mountaineering, for they are the one authoritative and comprehensive source for almost all types of information relating to the mountains. The style of the various articles, each by a different writer, representing many different countries, is becoming more skillful and more attractive each year, and a wider range of subjects is covered.

In the 1955 volume we find a thrilling discussion of midget aircraft for landing on high snow shoulders (like that on K2), illustrated by high speed photographs of a swallow landing near her nest. Philosophy is here: a short but excellent chapter by Jayal on the guiding principles of the Darjeeling School of Mountaineering. There is also, and obviously, a long and good account of the tiny Austrian party which climbed Cho Oyu. Marcel Kurz summarized in "Himalayan Chronicle” a dozen other good expeditions. The photographs are as fine as any published, both in selection and in printing, for they are "bled out” to the page edges, as in my opinion, mountain pictures should always be. G. W. Young has written a fine introduction, the theme of which is the need for a better style in mountaineering prose. He urges us to put more literary effort into presenting the truth as we see it, and less into the mechanics of a climb.

It is unfortunate that the volume dated 1955 is published (in English at least) only at the end of 1955 and recounts the feats of a year earlier. Perhaps this time lag will be reduced. In my estimation this is the outstanding mountaineering publication today.

Charles S. Houston, M.D.

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