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Entre Terre et Ciel

Entre Terre et Ciel, by Gaston Rébuffat and Pierre Tairraz. Paris: B. Arthaud, 1962. 183 pages, 104 black and white photographs, 6 color plates. Price 28 N.F.

Gaston Rébuffat has written the story of the filming of the motion picture Entre Terre et Ciel which received the Grand Prize of the Italian Alpine Club at the 10th International Festival of Mountain and Exploration Motion Pictures in Trento, Italy. The film, and the pictures in the book, are the result of collaboration between Rébuffat and the photographer Pierre Tairraz who, in characteristically alpine manner, is the fourth generation representative of the Tairraz family in the photographic business at Chamonix. Going beyond this, the young Pierre has become an accomplished pilot and rock-climber; pausing on a pitch, as Gaston tells us, to produce his camera.

The introduction, written in vigorous and warm prose style used in Starlight and Storm, describes Rébuffat’s love of climbing and the genesis of his collaboration with the Tairraz père et fils. The production of the film, which is narrated on the next 87 pages, together with chapters describing the climbs, lasted through two summer periods, each of four months. The picture taking involved four traverses of the Matterhorn, three of Mount Blanc, three ascents of the south face of the Aiguille du Midi and three of the Bonatti Pillar of the Dru. The result, shown in this book, is a series of magnificent climbing photographs of breath-taking clarity… how does Gaston manage to keep that beautiful sweater so clean and neat at all times, on cornice and on wall? The book concludes with a series of descriptions of climbing routes on the Matterhorn, on the Aiguille Verte (with the account by Whymper), on the Aiguille du Midi (with the account by Baquet), on a traverse of Mount Blanc and on the southwest pillar of the Dru. Only one omission was detected; the credit for plate 32 is not listed.

Entre Terre et Ciel is recommended for its beautiful photographs and for its clear, vivid and dramatic prose.

Thomas H. Jukes