American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Kangchenjunga: The Untrodden Peak

  • Book Reviews
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1957

Kangchenjunga: The Untrodden Peak, by Charles Evans, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1956. 187 pages; 5 pages of color and 32 pages of black and white illustrations; 5 large diagrams; 2 maps. Price 25 s. Kangchenjunga is a great mountain book. Unpretentious, it has to an extraordinary degree the feeling of expedition life on a great mountain. Charles Evans shows himself to be an observent, colorful writer, as well the best kind of leader. The story moves ahead—vigorously. We get the smells and sounds of camp life as the Sherpas push toward the mountain. From the time when Norman Hardie sights through the theodolite to learn the altitudes of different rock outcrops on the Yalung Face until he and Tony Streather, blue from lack of oxygen, return to meet Charles Evans above Camp V, the book is superb. It is full of the sound of avalanches, the feeling of remoteness from the rest of the earth, the fierce beauty of shadow and ice and rock. We sympathize with the exhausted climber who puts one leg in his sleeping bag and then must take a long rest before he can tuck in the other one. We understand the momentary panic of a tired, heavily loaded rope-leader on tricky snow when the lining of an oxygen mask suddenly shuts off the supply. We can even see Joe Brown and George Band, ready for the final attack next day, sleeping at Camp VI in a tent so "precariously perched" that they themselves are roped to a "spike of rock." Adding to the flavor are diagrams, many fine photographs, and excellent appendices. Danger and beauty, courage and pleasure in discovering the route are revealed with sensitivity and modesty. Again, this is a great mountain book.

Robert H. Bates

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.