American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

From Everest to the South Pole

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  • Publication Year: 1961

From Everest to the South Pole, by George Lowe. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1961. viii + 216 pages, with 6 maps and plans; 32 pages of photographs. Price $4.50. First published in England under the title Because It Is There. London: Cassell and Co., 1959. Price 21s.

George Lowe climbed high on Everest in 1953 and crossed the Antarctic in 1957-58; he has a lot to tell. Many American mountaineers who heard him talk about Everest, when he came to this country with Hillary and Evans in 1954, will turn to his book eagerly, remembering the clarity and good humor of his discourse. Their first reaction may be disappointment, for Lowe s account of climbing days runs to only fifty pages. There are passing references to the New Zealand Garhwal Expedition of 1951, the Cho Oyu Expedition of 1952, and the New Zealand Barun Expedition of 1954; there is a chapter, “Easy Day for a Lady,” on Everest. Most of the book has to do with the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition led by Sir Vivian Fuchs. Under the circumstances, the American title for the book seems much more appropriate than the English.

No doubt the author wanted to avoid repetitiousness. Hillary, Tenzing, Evans, and Noyce had already amplified the story told by Sir John Hunt in The Ascent of Everest. No one, so far as I know, had provided sidelights on The Crossing of Antarctica. Anyhow, a thought along this line relieves initial disappointment and enables the reader to enjoy the many passages of sharply observed detail, rendered with simple straightforwardness— sometimes, indeed, with unusual frankness. In a chapter entitled “Three Leaders, Lowe compares Hunt, Hillary, and Fuchs. Lowe’s photographs, as we know, are very good; his verbal portraits of Hunt and Fuchs are even more interesting and memorable.

David A. Robertson, Jr.

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