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Item #: OP370F-217
FACE A L'EVEREST: L'EXPEDITION ANGLAISE DE RECONNAISSANCE 1951 [THE MOUNT EVEREST RECONNAISSANCE EXPEDITION] Eric Shipton 1953 1st French ed DJ Near Fine
By Shipton, Eric
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Paris, 1953, 1st French edition. 156 pp, 29 photos, 2 maps. IN FRENCH. This expedition proved that the Western Cwm would 'go,' and paved the way for the first ascent the next year. [Neate S60.] Original paperbound cover with yellow/green and black titles; pictorial dust jacket, also called Wrapper, Near Fine.  

Eric Shipton is one of the greatest mountaineers of the twentieth century. He is closely connected with Everest. He was on all four 1930s Everest expeditions. In 1933 he accompanied Smythe in a summit bid, but had to turn back at the First Step (27,890 feet/8500 m). It was Shipton who led the 1951 reconnaissance to the south side of Everest. On this expedition he pioneered the now normal route through the Khumbu ice falls and the South Col route.

His belief in the efficacy of small expeditions meant he was sidelined for the leadership of the 1953 Everest expedition, in favor of John Hunt’s siege tactics. Nevertheless it is these small lightweight expeditions, which Shipton pioneered with his climbing partner, Bill Tilman, that have endured. They joked that “they could organize a Himalayan expedition in half an hour on the back of an envelope.”

His was a formidable record of climbing achievements. At 22 he had made the first ascent of Nelion, one of Mount Kenya’s twin summits. He climbed extensively in the Alps. In 1931 he and five companions were the first to summit 25,447-foot (7.756-meter) Mount Kamet – at that time the highest peak ever climbed. In 1933 he climbed within a thousand feet of the top of Mount Everest. Shipton and Tilman also discovered the access route to the Nanda Devi sanctuary through the Rishi Ganga gorge in 1934.

The Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition, published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1952, tells the full story of how his expedition had to beat the monsoon and find a new approach from the Southwest through Nepal and to conquer the the final obstacle, the Khumbu ice-fall, which was beset by avalanches and shattered underfoot as though by an earthquake.

The book is illustrated with 92 wonderful photographs, including the infamous yeti photographs whose photographed footprints were the first physical evidence of its existence made known widely to the western world. It should, however, be noted that Shipton had a reputation as a joker.


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