Climbing the Fish’s Tail, by Wilfred Noyce, London, Melbourne and Toronto, William Heinemann Ltd., 1958, 150 pages, 24 plates, 2 sketch maps.
A casual glance at the frontispiece suffices to attract the climber to an afternoon with this short, well-written book. The view shows the very impressive skyline of Machapuchare, which translated means the Fish’s Tail, so named because of the shape of its twin summits. It is immediately clear that the route was technically difficult, and that the party did well to get Wilfrid Noyce and David Cox within 150 feet of the higher 22,958-foot summit. In a most pleasant manner one is led chapter by chapter through the evolution of this difficult ascent, from its inception in the mind of the expedition’s organizer, James Roberts, to the final summit attempt from Camp V. For a difficult Himalayan ascent this was certainly a small party, the only other two expedition members, besides porters, being Charles Wylie and Roger Chorley. One enjoys reading of the informal, yet very effective, planning which, with support from the Everest Foundation, materialized in an expedition to Nepal in the spring of 1957. Moreover, in his easy flowing style Noyce conveys the feeling of mutual stimulation with which a small, compatible mountaineering party, bolstered by three fine sherpas, is sparked towards its objective. In fact, this group was inspired to the extent of stringing a half-mile of fixed rope, and they apparently enjoyed doing it.
The book is accompanied by very good and well-chosen photographs and even includes a brief appendix on arranging expeditions to Nepal. It is certainly a worthwhile addition to mountaineering literature.