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Hazards in Mountaineering: How to Recognize and Avoid Them

Hazards in Mountaineering: How to Recognize and Avoid Them, by Wilhelm Paulcke and Helmut Dumler, translated by E. Noel Bowman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973. 161 pages, over 100 photographs plus numerous diagrams and drawings. Hazards in Mountaineering has a history of nearly 100 years. Emil Zsigmondy’s original 1885 text was comprehensive and rightfully became a classic in mountaineering literature. Early in this century William Paulcke expanded Zsigmondy’s work. The last Paulcke edition appeared in 1933. Now, Helmut Dumler offers a third revision of Hazards, the first in the English language. This edition is disappointing.

Mountaineering is largely a process of overcoming subjective and objective hazards. A general text on mountaineering best discusses hazards in a complete mountaineering context. Zsigmondy and Paulcke did this. Dumler, however, has attempted to discuss mountaineering hazards without discussing general mountaineering philosophy and technique. The result of this separation is a disjointed array of information. In updating the book, Dumler introduced a new chapter, “Hazards Due to Equipment.” This chapter is useful to an extent, but unfortunately incomplete. For instance, the hazards of using Jümars, a particularly important subject for many American climbers, is not mentioned.

The format of this American edition is brassy. While it may be a salable item for the booming mountaineering industry, it will not be a valuable addition to personal libraries.

Robert Schneider

* This review reprinted from Mountain Gazette with permission.