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First Across the Roof of the World

First Across the Roof of the World. Graeme Dingle and Peter Hillary. Hodder and Stoughton, Auckland, 1983. 232 pages, color photographs, maps. £9.95.

In these days of ultradistance exploits in many sports, it is intriguing to discover another type of ultra event to test the limits of physical and psychological endurance. The event described in this book is a trek from one end of the Himalayas to the other—from Sikkim to Pakistan. This ten-month adventure covered 5000 kilometers and provided a good dose of pain and suffering to the participants. Completion of this traverse, like other alpine accomplishments, had little practical value, but it was an exciting odyssey. It was interesting to follow the day to day progress and to learn of the complications encountered in putting together the continuous, high-altitude route. Having travelled on many segments of the route, I found it intriguing to learn how the pieces fit together to make the “super trek.”

The photographs in this book are superb. The continuous maps are informative and the descriptions realistic and colorful. The concept of going alpine style, rather than using porters, certainly added to the accomplishment. The authors provide practical advice on equipment and survival in the appendices. For anyone who has visited the Himalayas or hopes to do so, this book gives an excellent overview of the entire region as well as an entertaining story.

Gene F. White