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ANNAPURNA A WOMAN'S PLACE Paperback Arlene Blum
By Blum, Arlene
Price: $10.00


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1980, 1st or later edition. 258 pp, photos. Used paperback, VG-Fine. Read of the conflicts and reconciliations, triumph and tragedy, as an all-women team puts the first Americans - and first women - on top of Annapurna in 1978.

In 1978, 13 women set out to climb Annapurna I in the Nepal Himalaya, achieving the first ascent of the world's 10th highest mountain by an American and by a woman. By proving that women had the skill, strength, and courage necessary to make this difficult and dangerous climb, the 1978 Women's Himalayan Expedition's accomplishment had a positive impact around the world, changing perceptions about women's abilities in sports and other arenas. Twenty years later, Arlene Blum has republished her account, offering her story to a new generation. Blum writes in the introduction,

Annapurna has become for me a metaphor for difficult and important goals. Striving to achieve such objectives draws on all of our abilities and brings out the best in us. There are still many 'Annapurnas' to be climbed in the world--such as protecting our natural environment; decreasing the gap between rich and poor; providing basic necessities for everyone on this planet; and raising our children to live with love and good values.

Impressive photos record the women's journey from Katmandu to the summit and back again. This book documents the personal triumphs and tragedies of these women with insights that only a firsthand account can offer. --Kathryn True

From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Erica Bauermeister

Arlene Blum led the first American and first women's expedition to climb Annapurna I in the Himalayas. Annapurna is her story of the climb: from fund-raising (remember the t-shirts that said 'A Woman's Place is on Top'?); to organizing thirteen women, more than 150 boxes of gear, thousands of pounds of food and numerous Nepalese guides and porters; to the summit ascent itself and the death of two climbers. Perhaps because it is told from the perspective of the leader of a team, this is as much a book about management and decisions as it is about a mountain. There are poetic passages about the beauty of the ice, the fantasy of cloudwalking, the terrors of avalanches and crevasses - but more time is spent on the delicate balance that must be kept between native male guides and foreign women climbers, as well as among the women themselves.

This is a book about working together under extraordinary conditions where the temperature in your tent can drop to ten degrees below zero and a tiny hole in a glove can mean the possible loss of a finger. It is about making decisions while an avalanche rushes by you with a wind that knocks you over. It is about risking death knowing that you have a daughter, a partner at home; for a few it means working for years and years, and then choosing at the last minute not to go to the top. At times confusing (keeping track of all the base camps, sherpas, and climbers is a job in itself), at times preachy, this is, in the end, the compelling story of thirteen very different women - ranging in age from 19 to 50 - each determined to get women to the top of a mountain whose name means 'the goddess rich in sustenance.'

This is the account of the first USA ascent of Annapurna in the Nepal Himalaya in 1978. It was also the first women's ascent of Annapurna with Irene Miller & Vera Komarkova reaching the summit. Overall this climb was the fifth time that the summit of Annapurna had been reached by a team. Sadly, Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz & Vera Watson, the second team to attempt the summit climb for this expedition, perished in a fall below Camp V (ca 24200 feet). Blum had hoped to have the entire team be comprised of women, but she had to accept recruitment of male sherpas when she couldn't find enough female sherpas for the project. All of the lead climbing and decision making was conducted by the women. Annapurna I (26540 feet) was first climbed in 1950 by the french rope of Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal. Based on statistics, Annapurna can be considered as the deadliest 8000 meter peak. It has a ratio (total deaths)/(total ascents) of about 50%. K2 and Nanga Parbat come next with ratios around 30%, followed closely by Manaslu.


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