Patagonia: Terra magica per alpinisti e viaggiatori. Gino Buscaini and Silvia Metzeltin. Dall’Oglio, Milano, 1987. 272 pages, 73 color photographs, 76 black-and-white photographs, 11 maps, topos, route sketches, drawings. Lire 50,000.
This magnificent volume is doubtless the most important book yet published on Patagonia. The English-speaking reader should not be put off by the text being in Italian. Of course, it is better to be able to read every word, but this is a book for everyone. For the beauty of its many illustrations, it ranks with the best of the “coffee-table” books. For a student of the area, it has a wealth of information about all aspects of Patagonia. The mountain historian can find the most complete data here on what has been climbed in this fascinating region. Anyone planning an expedition would be foolish not to consult it.
The authors, Gino Buscaini and his wife Silvia Metzeltin, are highly qualified to write this book. Gino Buscaini has written excellent guidebooks and has edited mountain books for the Club Alpino Italiano. Silvia Metzeltin is an author with advanced degrees in geology. Until recently, she was the chairman of the UIAA Expeditions Committee. Together, they have made a large number of expeditions to their beloved Patagonia.
The book opens with a general description of Patagonia. There follow sections on the geography, climate, geology, fauna and flora. Man’s influence on the region is shown both in pre-history and by tracing early exploration. We learn about Reichert, Padre De Agostini and even as recent explorers as Ferrari and Fonrouge. The origin of many of the names of the area is given. Patagonian legends are recorded. The last third of the book is devoted to a complete history of Patagonian climbing. Just about all climbs well into 1987 with references as to where further information is available have been accurately recorded with meticulous care. Maps show the location of peaks and glaciers. Topos and route sketches give details.
To many the book will appeal because of its sheer beauty. The photographs were mostly taken by Gino Buscaini, but both historic and scenic pictures by others are included. The color photographs are reproduced with striking accuracy. Gino Buscaini is a skilled artist as well, and his drawings enhance the volume. This is a book I recommend heartily to anyone who loves the mountains.