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Item #: OP108H-4785
ANNAPURNA FIRST CONQUEST OF AN 8000-METER PEAK [26,493 feet] 1953 2nd-5th printing, Hardcover DJ. SIGNED & DATED 3 June 1950 by Maurice Herzog
By Herzog, Maurice
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Herzog signed and dated a few copies of Annapurna for us.
The date, of course, is the day he and Louis Lachenal made the summit.

New York, 1953, 2nd-5th printing. 316 pp, photos. The most popular and inspiring narrative in the literature of mountaineering, and the first to become a 'bestseller'. The story of the French team that explored Dhaulagiri, discovered the approach to Annapurna, and made the 1st ascent. DJ, Near Fine.  

 
 
Maurice Herzog signing Annapurnas for us in the 1990s.
 
This is a longer description of the book: The gripping story of a major event in mountain climbing history with a sketch map of the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna massifs in Nepal. This is an account of the 1950 French expedition to the Himalayas by its leader, Maurice Herzog and is a must read for anyone who is interested in high altitude climbing. The book itself chronicles the attempt by the French to climb an 8,000-meter peak in the Himalayas.
 
They had two alternatives: Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. In those days, the Himalayas were largely uncharted and any topographical maps which existed at the time proved to be largely incorrect. So, the French expedition spent a large portion of their time in reconnaissance. Not only were they there to climb the mountain, they first had to find a way to get to it and then map out a route on the unknown terrain to the summit. Ultimately, they chose to climb Annapurna. The climb took place without the sophisticated equipment or protective clothing available today. This was before Gortex and freeze-dried foods. This climb was made before Nepal or climbing the Himalayas became a major tourist attraction.
 
The conditions for travelers were extremely primitive and difficult under the best of circumstances. When the expedition finally finds a route to Annapurna, the reader almost feels like cheering for them. When they start to climb, one senses that, in comparison to latter day expeditions, they were not so well equipped or savvy about the dangers one can encounter during a high altitude climb or the risks in doing it without supplemental oxygen, as they did. Then one realizes that they were pioneers. They were paving the way for others. The climb to the summit by Maurice Herzog and his partner, Louis Lachenal, is interesting, but it is their harrowing descent and return to civilization which is riveting. The two summiteers began their descent inauspiciously enough but soon ran into difficulties. They were fortunate enough to encounter two of their fellow climbers, Lionel Terray and Gaston Rebuffat, who were contemplating their own summit assault but, instead, chose to aid their comrades in their descent, foregoing their own quest for the summit.
 
The travails which the climbers encountered on the descent would have finished off less hardy souls. Maurice Herzog lost his gloves during the descent and had no spare pair. One of climbers fell into a crevasse which, believe it or not, turned out to be a good thing. They were caught in an avalanche. They got lost in a storm. They became frostbitten and two of them were, ultimately, forced to endure amputations.

The medical treatment they received by the expedition doctor was unbelievable and almost primitive. Employing treatments for frostbite that have since fallen onto disrepute (excruciatingly painful arterial injections, for example), the doctor was almost frightening, at times. The reader cannot help but feel pity for the suffering the injured climbers endured: maggot ridden flesh, amputations without anesthesia, and lack of proper medical care for a protracted period of time. Translated from the French by Nea Morin and Janet Adam Smith. Introduction by Eric Shipton.

Every step taken by Herzog and his companions on this historic climb was charged with adventure the days of travel through Nepalese jungle, zigzagging through a wilderness of gorges and torrent streams, the preliminary exploration of the approaches to "The Goddess of Harvests," as the Nepalese call Annapurna, the back-breaking task of establishing a chain of camps (Base Camp at 14, 750 feet, Camp 1 about 2,000 feet above, Camp 2 another 2,500 feet up, and on to Camp 5 at 24,300 feet.

Snow whipping into their faces; cold stiffening their clothes; the glaze of the tropical sun blinding them; their bodies and brains sluggish from fatigue and lack of oxygen finally, a jubilant sense of victory and then the discovery that the worst was still ahead a long series of mishaps during the descent which almost plunged the expedition into total disaster. Annapurna by Maurice Herzog is one of the great adventure classics of all time. It is also an enduring tribute to the spirit of man which is indestructible and against which nothing can prevail.


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