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Mount Everest

Mount Everest, by Toni Hagen, G. O. Dyhrenfurth, Christoph von FürerHaimendorf and Erwin Schneider. Zürich: Orell Füssli, 1959. 234 pages; 31 photographs, 25 figures and a relief map, scale 1:25,000. Price 24 Swiss Francs.

This book is in four parts, each written by a renowned authority in his field. Dr. Toni Hagen, author of the section “Vom Werden des höchsten Gebirges der Erde” (The Formation of the Highest Mountain Range on the Earth), traveled for eight years (1950-58) through the valleys and over the high passes of Nepal, covering in all about 10,000 miles on foot. He was working as a geological expert for the United Nations Technical Assistance Administration and the Nepalese government and collected during this time more evidence appertaining to the geological history of the Himalayas than any other single geologist before him. In the first 125 pages of this book Toni Hagen gives an absorbing preliminary account of this highly interesting, little known section of the earth’s geology. The material here set down, though written for the layman, is valuable to the professional both in itself and as an introduction to the forthcoming scientific publications by the same author.

In the second section, Dr. G. O. Dyhrenfurth, himself a pioneer of mountaineering and scientific work in the Himalayas and leader of two international expeditions, contributes a detailed history of all expeditions to the Everest group between 1921 and 1958. The concentrated factual information is presented in such a lucid and interesting manner that it is a pleasure to read this most welcome and instructive summary of the climbing efforts at this “Third Pole.”

In his account of the life, culture and origin of "The Sherpas in the Khumbu Area,” Professor Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf, ethnologist at the school of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, presents the material he gathered during two long visits when he lived amongst this most amiable population at the foot of Mount Everest. His contribution deserves the highest recommendation, for every sentence provides facts which are of both scientific and general interest. Every word holds as much value for those who have been in this area as for people who are simply interested in mountainous regions and their inhabitants. The reviewer was pleased to find the resemblance which he had noted between the Sherpas and other mountain populations, for example the Swiss mountain villagers, upheld by these thorough, scientific investigations.

Erwin Schneider, the Austrian topographer and surveyor, describes in the last part of the book how he compiled his superb contour-line map of the Mount Everest area. Only Schneider with his unique experience and rare intuition in map making by means of terrestrial photogrammetry could have amassed all the material necessary for this first complete map of the Chomolungma-Mount Everest massif. Though there are some errors, such as placing Chukhung village on the wrong side of the river (in spite of my sketches showing the correct location! cf. p. 228), and though the treatment of detail in some parts is too generalized, Schneider’s map is a masterpiece of cartography and is of enormous value for both scientists and mountaineers.

This comprehensive account of the earth’s highest region succeeds outstandingly in presenting scientific information in a highly readable and understandable style. It is illustrated with beautiful photographs and excellent diagrams and is further enhanced by the inclusion of the relief map.

Fritz Müller