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To the Unknown Mountain

To the Unknown Mountain by Wilfrid Noyce. London: Heineman, 1963. xii and 183 pages, 19 photographs. Price 21 s.

Trivor (25,370 feet), above the Gharesa Glacier in the western Karakorum, was Noyce’s unknown mountain and a worthy find. Perhaps from its summit he could see the Russian Pamirs where his luck played out. He was a versatile and prolific writer, acutely and sensitively aware of the beauty of the hills and the challenge of the remote and difficult peak. His works included two volumes of poetry and a novel, as well as seven books on mountaineering.

The account is highly personal and quite introspective. Party organization and the associated burdens of transport ran as might be expected although he was favored with good contacts in Pakistan. The approach to Trivor was quite simple, the chief difficulty being the unreliability and considerable thievery of the Balti porters, and even the Hunzas. The actual climb, which was described as simple, was by a long northwest ridge over a subsidiary summit, with five camps above the advanced base. Sickness plagued the party but the weather was kind for such a late season, the top being reached by Noyce and Jack Sadler in mid-August.

Noyce writes, “A man, therefore, perplexed by the many puzzles of these days surrounding him, can choose, conveniently from a map, the unknown mountain to which he will build his altar, offer the incense of his skill and the gold of his hard earned resources.” And in the postscript, “The mountain remains unknown as before. But perhaps those who climb it know themselves a little better for the climbing.”

Sterling Hendricks