Despite our general policy of not reviewing how-to manuals and guidebooks, at least two titles stand out as exceptional: Mark F. Twight’s Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light Fast, & High is a manual for accomplished climbers who want to push to the next level. Twight is one of the few people who use the word “extreme” accurately. Excellent photos, many by Jim Martin, and first-rate anecdotes bolster a text that could be useful to most of us.
R.J. Secor’s The High Sierra: Peaks, Passes, and Trails is now in its second edition. Secor has added 80 new routes and 60-plus new pages to the book that was already the definitive guide to the Range of Light; 570 peaks are described here. Both titles are from Mountaineers Books.
Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey is the story of author Goran Kropp’s bike trip from Sweden to Kathmandu and subsequent “solo” ascent of Everest. Reviewer Jeff apple Benowitz notes that anyone who enjoyed the death-mongering accounts of the 1996 Everest tragedies will like this one, and that the title should be changed to Ultimate Kropp to better fit the cover and text behind it. Discovery Books.
The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest is a beautifully illustrated book for children (ages 5 to 12; all ages for the artwork) about climbing by Steve Jenkins. Reviewers Marian and Neale Creamer were particularly impressed by the illustrations of cut paper and collage that create effective images of wind, snow plumes and valley clouds, as well as frostbite and breathing at altitude. Informative and beautiful. Houghton Mifflin Company.
In North Cascades Crest: Notes and Images from America’s Alps, James Martin provides an overview of the geology, ecology, personalities and history of Washington’s North Cascades mountain range using a mere 128 pages. Reviewer Lloyd Athearn admired the 75 sumptuous color photographs that bring the range to life, but found that the written text makes the book. Martin recalls six journeys to assorted comers of the range, from multi-day trips across the Northern Pickets and the Ptarmigan Traverse to day and weekend outings. Sasquatch Books.
Climbing High: A Woman’s Account of Surviving the Everest Tragedy is Lene Gammelgaard’s account of her successful climb as a member of Scott Fisher’s 1996 team. Reviewer Jeanne Panek notes that “the stream-of-consciousness quality of her writing style matches the dream-like reverie of a mind at high elevation. Gammelgaard’s style is not sensational. It is an intensely introspective, unpolished and analytical journal which focuses on events that touched her directly. She is unabashedly honest about her own self-doubts.” Finally, Panek’s opinions were mixed: “While I embrace including new styles in an otherwise male-dominated literature, her unfocused, self-absorbed journal narrative style felt shallow and left me wondering what her goal was in writing the book.” Seal Press.
In The High Lonesome: Epic Solo Climbing Stories, editors John Long and Hai-Van K. Sponholz have given us a splendid selection of 21 previously published stories from soloists (several of whom have been killed in action) including household names: Beghin, Casarotto, Cesen, Child, Croft, Hargreaves, Messner, Twight. Reviewer Steve Roper says this compilation “speaks of the bravest of us all. Or the craziest of us all. This is a compelling and enjoyable book, one I recommend to all climbers except to impressionable ones.” Falcon Press.
Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine is Peter Firstbrook’s first-hand account of the 1999 Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition. The author, who produced the BBC film of the same name, devotes only two of ten chapters to the 1999 recovery mission, its findings and conclusions. These chapters are, in the opinion of reviewer Margaret Ann Sinex, without question the best portion of the volume. Contemporary Books.
David Robertson has reissued his biography, George Mallory, originally published in 1969. This is one of the primary sources of biographical materials for most of the new Mallory-Irvine tomes. In addition, Robertson has published North of India, portraits of six early Himalayan explorers. Both books are published by Orchid Press, Bangkok. David Robertson, a longtime AAC member and former co-editor of this journal, should not be confused with David Roberts, co-author of The Lost Explorer and numerous other titles familiar to our readers.
Also available in a new paperback edition is Tom Holzel and Audrey Salkeld’s First on Everest: The Mystery of Mallory & Irvine, first published in 1986. This was the original ground-breaking work upon whose shoulders much of the “new” speculation stands. Mountaineers Books.
Evelio Echevarría has published a second edition of his history of climbing in Chile, Chile Andinista: Su Historia. Echevarría calls this labor of love his “final enlarged edition.” Enhanced with numerous archival photographs and thoroughly documented with appendices and footnotes, this scholarly work will stand as the world-wide record. In Spanish.
Nanda Devi: Exploration and Ascent. Eric Shipton and H.W. Tilman. This book reprints the two classics Nanda Devi and The Ascent of Nanda Devi. In addition to combining the two- in-one volume, included here is a terrific new introductory memoir by Charles Houston, one of the co-leaders of the 1936 expedition. From Bâton Wicks.
Twenty-Five Letters from Norman Clyde, 1923-1964 is a limited edition (500 copies) book by Dennis Kruska, who has provided a short biography as well as thoughtful annotations of these previously unpublished letters. From The Castle Press, Pasadena, this is a most elegant production, made by and for people who love Norman Clyde, the Sierra and fine books.
Spirit of the Mountains collects “more than 200 photographs of the most sought-out mountains in the world.” Published by Grivel, the French hardware makers, this is a beautiful collection, printed in paperback with a dust wrapper. It’s a glossy magazine with high production values, no editorial content and next to no space devoted to advertising. Distributed in the U.S. by Stackpole Books.