Road to Rakaposhi, by George Band ; with Chapters Two and Five by Ted Wrangham and Chapter Seven by George Band and Roger Chorley. Also two appendices by David Fisher. 192 pages, 47 photographs, 4 maps. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1955. Price, 16 s.
This is an excellent book. In fact its excellencies are so many that I shall be able to mention only a few. In short, I recommend it as I would very few books on mountaineering, or any subject.
The title is an insight to the book. It is the story of the whole trip— the Road—to the mountain called Rakaposhi, in the state of Hunza, Pakistan. Significantly, only 55 pages are devoted to the actual climbing account. The author, George Band of Everest and Kangchenjunga, and his associates, have realized that their preparation, their experiences in reaching Pakistan, their visits to Hunza, Baltit, and Nagir, and the people of these states are the necessary backdrop to their mountain, the atmosphere which gives their day on the mountain life and value.
As a result of this awareness, the excellent appendices, and generally an attitude of unselfish helpfulness—which Eric Shipton expresses in his foreword: "… content that others should use their discoveries to attain the success which, with a little more luck with the weather, might well have been theirs.”—this book could be used as a handbook for small expeditions to the Himalaya. The pleasure of this book is partly in that, and partly in the assurance—particularly comforting to this reviewer— that the small expedition is still possible and the finest way to climb and enjoy big mountains.
All in all, this is an engrossing and stimulating book. Its basic value is stated by Shipton in the completion of the above quotation: "At a time“ when competition and international rivalry seem to threaten the values and long established traditions of mountaineering, it is most encouraging to find this spirit still so very much alive.” In ending this review I might add two facts: one, Rakaposhi (25,550 feet), is still unclimbed and just three days march from an airport; two, I profoundly wish that I had been on this trip.
David A. Sowles