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Himàlaya e Karakorùm

Himàlaya e Karakorùm, by Mario Fantin. Milano: Club Alpino Italiano, 1978. 248 pages, 97 photographs, various maps.

Mario Fantin, the well-known Italian authority on the mountains of the world, has given us an excellent and handsome book and a highly useful one for those who read Italian. The text portion is a reference book packed with pertinent information. The first 40 pages contain data on the Himalaya: geology, glaciology, climate, geography, information on names, fauna and flora, communications, geographical divisions. A second 35-page section is devoted to the many varied peoples of the area, followed by over 40 pages of climbing history and bibliography. Then twenty pages are given over specially to the Karakoram.

The text is generally authoritative and contains much useful information. I quarrel with only a few points. “Chogori” and “P’alchan Kangri” are synthetic names given by Europeans to K2 and Broad Peak which are not used in Pakistan or by the Baltis, who live closest to the region. In fact, I have heard angry protests by Pakistanis over the use of these names. And I am surprised at the reference to “the most heavily glaciated region outside the polar regions of the Canadian Arctic Islands, Greenland and Antarctica” as being in the Karakoram, when the mountains of temperate regions of Alaska and the Yukon Territory are much more heavily glaciated. These are perhaps quibbles and do not really detract from this carefully researched volume.

It is the last third of the book that will appeal to any climber. Signor Fantin has put together an outstanding collection of black-and-white photographs of all parts of these mountains. These he has obtained from photographers all over the world. They alone will make this volume a treasured addition to the mountaineer’s library.

H. Adams Carter