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Item #: OP433C-443
CHO OYU: BY FAVOUR OF THE GODS Herbert Tichy 1st UK ed Hardcover Rare DJ Fine
By Tichy, Herbert
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London, 1957, 1st UK edition. 196 pp, 36 b/w plates. Tan cloth hardcover with dust jacket. Fine.

This book is very scarce and sought after. 

The first ascent of Cho Oyu by the smallest team ever to do an 8000m peak first ascent; there were only three Europeans and seven Sherpas. Tichy and two others reached the summit. 

This is the account of the first ascent of Cho Oyu (8201m), the sixth highest mountain on the planet. The ascent was made in 1954 by a small, lightweight team led by Herbert Tichy (1912-1987). Cho Oyu was formerly believed to be 8153m high (seventh or eighth highest mountain) but more accurate height measurements show it is 8201m high, thus the sixth highest mountain. The summit was reached by Herbert Tichy, Pasang Dawa Lama, and Sepp Jöchler.
 
Tichy was an itinerate scholar with a doctorate in geology, but the bulk of his work was in geography. He travelled to the Himalaya many times as well as to other remote regions of the world (Africa, Tibet, China, Alaska), usually alone with one or two locals. Thus he learned intimate details of local cultures and traditions. He became lifelong friends with many of the local people that joined him during his travels. This type of casual but intimate experience is evident in his writing and is a big part of why this is one of the best accounts of climbing an 8000er.

John Hunt wrote the introduction for this book. It is included in its entirety below:

'There is magic even in a figure. For many people who climb mountains, summits have a certain fascination on account of their height, as well as, or even apart from, the difficulties they offer. Both aspects present a challenge. Thus, the 'Three-thousanders' of our own islands command respect, even though we are thinking only in terms of feet above sea-level; in the minds of some they are in a 'class' of their own and worthy to be climbed on this very account. In Scotland they are known as 'Munro's', and a man may be known by the number of these he has climbed in a life-time, or a day.

So it is in the European Alps, with the summits of 4,000 metres and above; in the Himalayas this peculiar distinction attaches to those twice that figure. It is but natural that these giants should be surrounded in our minds by an aura of romance, for there are only fourteen 8,000-metre peaks in the world. Hence the fascination, for Tichy and his friends, of Cho Oyu.

Now the romance, whether of the Ben Nevis, the Mont Blanc, or the Everest 'class' mountain, may be deemed illusory and misleading. There is just as much fun and often a far greater technical challenge on lower peaks in many ranges. Yet the magic of these figures derives from something fundamental in man's make-up -- the urge to spend himself, to reach towards the limits of human endurance for the simple purpose of discovering where that limit lies. This I have long believed, and this story of six men, three from the West and three from the East, striving together against natural forces and human frailty to pass beyond 8,000 metres and reach a mountain top, may help others to understand it, too.

The story is remarkable in many ways. First, because they achieved their goal with so few resources, human and material. Even those of us who not only prefer but believe in the greater efficacity of 'small' expeditions rather than 'large' ones to tackle the biggest peaks of all would hardly have accepted a figure of only three European climbers as sufficient for this task. Secondly, because it is the first expedition in which the whole enterprise was so fully shared by Sherpas and Sahibs together; this perhaps, partly explains the first point I have mentioned. Thirdly, it was a remarkable exploit because, for the first time in this new era of Himalayan climbing, there was simultaneous competition to climb a high peak by two expeditions from different nations. Before they made the second, successful bid for the top the Austrians were surprised by the arrival of a Swiss-French party [ Claude Kogan and Raymond Lambert ] bent on the same goal; great credit is due to both that the outcome was both fair and friendly. This is a pointer to the future, for, as in the Alps within the last hundred years, there is bound to be rivalry over first ascents of the remaining untrodden summits.

The story is remarkable, too, for its author, modest, quiet and gentle Herbert Tichy, who, rendered helpless and in great pain with frost-bitten fingers, himself endured to the top --- a feat of outstanding moral and physical courage. In telling his tale, he will awake, through his own love for that enchanting land and its friendly people, the memories of many other Himalayan travellers and the sympathies of many more still.

And what am I to say of Pasang Dawa Lama, their Sirdar and my old friend of three small expeditions between the wars? With him I first saw the traces of the Yeti: he was with me on Nepal Peak and with my wife and myself on two reconnaissances of Pandim. Now, at the summit of his powers, he has set a new standard for human performance, for what the body can achieve when driven by ruthless will. To him mainly is due the climbing of the world's seventh highest mountain. This performance, by which Pasang travelled from Namche Bazar to the top of Cho Oyu in three days, walking many miles across rugged mountain country and climbing some fourteen thousand feet, is also a pointer to the future; to the day when men will reach the top of Everest without oxygen.

The climbing of Cho Oyu by the Austrians and the Sherpas will, I trust, provide a pattern for the method and the spirit in which future Himalayan mountains will be climbed.


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