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Around the Roof of the World

Around the Roof of the World. Edited by Nicholas and Nina Shoumatoff. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1996. 23 chapters, 23 drawings, and 16 colored plates. Notes, index, 227 pages. Hard cover. $29.95.

This fine book by American Alpine Club members Nicholas and Nina Shoumatoff contains 23 chapters concerning mountains and mountain peoples within the vast regions of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the Alai and Trans Alai Mountains, the Pamirs, Hindu Kush, Hunza (in Pakistan), Ladakh, and Everest. The authors, who know Russian, have climbed and traveled in the high Pamirs and in four of the new Russian republics. Four chapters were written in English, including one by Heinrich Harrer on Tibet, while 18 chapters have been translated into English by the authors, three from French and 13 from never-before-translated Russian originals.

Most Americans know little about Russian mountains or Russian climbers, and have much to learn. Russian climbers tell of first ascents of the great Korzhenevskaya, Pobeda Peak, and Victory Peak, while a well-known botanist records a difficult trek across 600 kilometers of mountainous Tadjikistan. Outchinnikov, a famous Russian climber, describes the Russian first ascent of Mt. Everest, which he led, and tells of witnessing the unfortunate deaths of the British climbers Noyce and Smith in the Pamirs in 1962.

American travelers, climbers, and general readers will find much of interest in this unusual and informative book.

Robert H. Bates