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Tents in the Clouds

Tents in the Clouds, by Monica Jackson and Elizabeth Stark. London: Collins, 1956. 255 pages; 24 pages of photographs; 5 sketch maps. Price 18 s.

Mrs. Monica Jackson, Miss Betty Stark, and Dr. Evelyn Camrass accomplished something new in the way of a Himalayan expedition—one organized and carried out—and with complete competence and success, —by women alone. Although theirs was a relatively small and modest expedition, still they explored the last large unknown area of the Nepal Himalaya, the Jugal Himal (where white people had never before entered), discovered hitherto unknown passes, corrected inaccuracies of the map, and climbed a new peak of more than 22,000 feet. The surprising aspect of this expedition is the technical difficulty of the terrain— glaciers, icefalls, crevasses—that they took on. I believe rocks have long been considered appropriate for women, but complicated snow- and icework has usually been man’s field.

All this is written up in the most engaging way with an informality and intimacy rare in expedition books. We learn much more of the small but interesting details of personal relations, of finance—even, one might say, of housekeeping—than is usual; all of which brings us closer to the experience ourselves. This same simplicity and modesty, I am sure, extended to the whole conduct of the expedition and in particular to the relations of these girls with their sherpas and porters, whom they managed with considerable astuteness. The men, on their side, seemed to be rather intrigued with the situation and to enjoy the trip as much as the ladies.

Miriam Underhill