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White Fury

White Fury (Record à l’Himalaya), by Ramond Lambert and Claude Kogan. Translated from the French by Showell Styles. Foreword by Maurice Herzog. Appendices by Albert Zimmermann and Dr. Franz Lochmatter. London: Hurst and Blackett, 1956. 175 pages; ills. Price 18 s.

This is a story of a post-monsoon reconnaissance of Gaurisankar, 23,440 feet, and Melungtse, 23,564 feet, and an attempt on Cho Oyu, 26,750 feet, in the fall of 1954. Lambert and Mme. Kogan relate their experiences in alternate groups of chapters, a device that offers the reader a "stereoscopic" view of expedition activities. Although the chapters sometimes overlap, this style is none-the-less a pleasant innovation, especially in view of the authors' varied approaches to description.

Finding access to the sumits of Gaurisankar and Melungtse too complex an undertaking, Lambert’s party travels to Cho Oyu. Here they are faced with a delicate decision, for Dr. Tichy’s Austrian expedition is found to be already engaged in ascending the peak. Lambert lets each member of his party voice an opinion, but it is Lambert who leads the discussion to a decision not to attempt the mountain until the Austrians have had their chance: "In mountaineering there is a kind of law that puts competition … out of the game. There is a chivalry of mountains, a moral code none-the-less binding for being unwritten."

The book concludes with an account of the Austrian’s climb of Cho Oyu and the desperate attempt on the same peak by Lambert and Mme. Kogan that failed because of terrible winds some 1100 feet below the summit. The story is well told, although it has lost some of its flavor through translation. Among the routine descriptions of expedition life one finds passages here and there that show a sensitive, lyrical appreciation of the scenes and events which unfold before the author’s eyes.

Allen Steck