Ihr Herren Berge, Menschen und Gipfel im Lande der Inka, by Günter Hauser. Stuttgart: Engelhornverlag, 1959. 256 pages; 46 ills, in black and white and 4 in color; 4 maps. Price DM 12.80.
In the summer of 1957 a lightweight German expedition of the Swabian section of the Deutsche Alpenverein made 12 difficult first ascents in the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Vilcanota in Peru. (A.A.J., 1958, 11:1, pp. 108-110.) Their leader, Günter Hauser, gives an excellent account of their climbing and travels in this book, the title of which might be translated Ye Mountain Gods, People and Peaks in the Land of the Incas. In his introduction Hauser points out that he does not intend to write a "chronological account of an expedition or a kind of worked-over diary but rather attempts to mirror a foreign country, its wealth and poverty, its history and future, to show something of its fullness and beauty from the depth of the steaming jungles to its icy summits.” Half of the book is devoted to mountaineering and the other half to archeology, history, sociology and politics and to accounts of interesting side trips made to the jungles where the Amazon begins, to archeological sites and to friendly haciendas. In undertaking so broad a task, an author runs the danger of slight misstatements. I shall not quibble here with one or two historical facts about the conquest of Peru and shall limit myself to correcting two points in mountaineering history: the first ascent of Salcantay was not made by the Swiss, as Hauser states, but by the Franco-American party in 1952; Campa I was a fourth and not a third ascent, the Germans apparently being unaware of a Peruvian ascent after the Austrian one and before the Harvard one.
This book will be of particular interest to members of the American Alpine Club, many of whom have now had the pleasure of knowing the cordilleras of Peru at first hand. And too, members of our Club play a part in this story. Ted Achilles joined the Germans while they climbed in the Cordillera Vilcanota. It was there that the Harvard Andean Expedition, made up largely of A.A.C. members, was discovered by the Germans. Both parties were unaware of the plans of the others. Hauser describes amusingly how they divided up the peaks amicably among them.
This is a well written and interesting book. Both parts will hold the reader’s attention. Of course climbers will be particularly drawn to the descriptions of such difficult ascents as those of the Pirámide de Garcilaso, Jatunhuma and Cayungate I. To give a real climax to the end of the book, the author has removed the ascent of Alpamayo, the "most beautiful mountain in the world,” from chronological sequence and reserved it for the last. There are other excellent features as well. The photographs are beautifully taken and well reproduced. There are several sketch maps of regions not otherwise well mapped; the excellent topographical map inside the back cover is the best of the Cordillera Vilcanota known to the reviewer. There is also a good bibliography. Here is a book of the mountains of Peru well worth owning.
H. Adams Carter