Du Kenya au Kilimanjaro, by Roland Truffaut. 251 pages, 2 maps, 2 sketches, 16 pages illustrations. Paris: Rene Julliard, 1953. Price bound, Fr. Fcs. 1090.
This little book is the story of the small French expedition of 1952, which visited Africa and climbed both Kenya and Kilimanjaro. Of the party of eight, two members, Maurice Martin and Roger Rangaux, succeeded in making the first ascent of the north face of Batian, the highest point of Kenya Mountain, under difficult conditions. The story of this ascent is the highlight of the book, although it occupies but little of the total account.
The party apparently had a very good time aside from the disappointing weather conditions on the mountain itself, and much of the space in the book is devoted to the approach and return, the trip to Kilimanjaro, and the wild life encountered. From the standpoint of the climber the most interesting part of the book is the chapter devoted to the 10 days spent at the upper end of the Mackinder Valley. Several attempts to force a route up the north face were shattered by the daily afternoon storms. In fact, it was only after the party had been scheduled to leave that one more attempt was made, by two instead of the four originally intended, and the climb finally completed. The account of the climb itself is written largely from the point of view of the onlookers. The ascent of Kilimanjaro, afterwards, comes somewhat in the nature of an anticlimax and was quite obviously made to complete the record and bring home a 6,000-er.
Although the author gives a quite complete list of the ascents of the various summits of Kenya, which would indicate a familiarity with the literature, his lack of knowledge of English causes him to make many errors in spelling throughout the work. The text is well-leaded with good margins, but a better grade of paper would have improved the appearance of the book. The pictures, although well reproduced, are small with three or four to a page. This is a very readable account of a pleasant trip and an outstanding climb.
K. A. Henderson