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Item #: OP1325B-357
Everest. Ein Bildbericht der Schweizerischen Stiftung für Alpine Forschungen [EVEREST: THE SWISS EVEREST EXPEDITIONS] SFAR 1954, 1st Swiss edition, No DJ Fine
By Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research [SFAR]
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Zurich, 1953, 1st Swiss edition. 144 color and b/w plates. Text in German. Picture book on the two 1952 Swiss climbs on Everest, which nearly reached the top. Large-format hardcover, no DJ, Near Fine.

The 1952 Swiss Everest Expeditions were commemorated in a magnificent pictorial record. Here for all mountaineers and lovers of mountains is a remarkable collection of pictures covering the Swiss expeditions of Spring and Autumn 1952.

The exceptional hardships endured in these attempts to force the defenses of Everest from the south and the heroic achievement of Lambert and Tenzing in reaching over 28,000 feet on the South-East ridge of the mountain stirred the imagination of people everywhere. This was a milestone in the conquest of Everest; it aroused the keenest interest in the world of climbers; it was in itself a tremendous mountain adventure.

The book has one hundred and forty-four picturcs in color and b/w, superb as photography and in their reproduction. They cover, with full descriptive captions, the journey through East Nepal, the approach to Everest, the Khumbu Icefall, the Western Cwm, the South Col, the South East ridge and the site of that emergency bivouac from which Lambert and Tenzing made their gallant attempt on the summit on 28th May, 1952.

They present the climbers -- Gabriel Chevalley and Raymond Lambert, members of both expeditions; Sirdar Tenzing, Lambert's companion; the other fourteen members of the Spring and Autumn parties, and their Sherpas, among them Da Namgyal, who was to reach 27,350 feet with John Hunt in the following year.

The introduction by Othmar Gurtner recapitulates the story of Everest from the first attempts on the mountain through these Swiss expeditions to the ascent of 1953.


Expedition supported by the SFAR Everest, spring 1952

Excerpt from: Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, 1939 to 1970. Published in Zurich in 1972

Participants: Dr. med. Edouard Wyss-Dunant, expedition leader; René Dittert, lead climber; Dr. med. Gabriel Chevalley, expedition doctor; Jean-Jacques Asper; René Aubert; Léon Flory; Ernest Hofstetter; Raymond Lambert; André Roch, all from Geneva. They were joined by a study group from the University of Geneva, made up of the geologist Prof. Dr. Augustin Lombard, the ethnologist Mme Marguerite Lobsiger and the botanist Albert Zimmermann.

Outcomes: Conquest of the Khumbu ice fall; ascent of the South Col (7986 m). Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing reached a height of about 8500 metres on the south-west ridge of Everest.

The doctor from Geneva, Edouard Wyss-Dunant, was appointed leader of this expedition. He was circumspect, calm, widely-educated and already experienced in the Himalayas. All the expedition’s participants were from Geneva, they almost all belonged to the exclusive «L'Androsace» climbing club, they knew each other very well, and they formed a first-class mountaineering team.

There had hardly ever been such a close-knit, fully homogenous group of mountain climbers, all inspired by the same sense of enthusiasm. As well as the leader, Wyss-Dunant, Dr. Gabriel Chevalley, André Roch and Rene Dittert also had experience of the Himalayas. 

The city and Canton of Geneva provided moral and financial support for the expedition, and the University of Geneva provided the scientific contingent. It was no exaggeration to say that this was a Genevan expedition.

The task that this team had set itself in relation to mountaineering comprised primarily of the exploration of the access to the South Col, the conquest of the labyrinthine Khumbu ice fall and possibly the advance to the South Col. No attempt at an ascent of Everest was ever under consideration in this case.

The results of this first Swiss Everest expedition are remarkable, and exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. At the first attempt, they had opened up a new route to Everest, and had reached an extraordinary height on the south-western ridge in difficult conditions. In the opinion of the extremely critical Marcel Kurz, this expedition could almost be compared to a victory.

 The Fall 1952 expedition

Two French-speaking Swiss men, Gustave Gross and Jean Buzio and two German-speaking Swiss men, Ernst Reiss and Arthur Spöhel were also chosen. Each of these men already had a glittering mountaineering career behind them, but no experience in the Himalayas. Time ran out before a sufficiently strong assault party could be assembled, so the gap would have to be filled by the best available Sherpas.

This new team did not have the same inner cohesion as the first, nor its irresistible flair. The combination of the functions of expedition leader and doctor in the same person also proved to be less than perfect. The expedition was equipped in a record time of one month, though much more material had to be ordered because much lower temperatures were to be expected. They took new oxygen equipment and more oxygen cylinders with them.

This expedition was not blessed with particularly good luck from the very beginning. The influence of the first expedition was too powerful, although the conditions and circumstances were quite different. Nevertheless, further valuable experience was gathered. This included the proof that the Lhotse glacier was passable, and that it offered the opportunity to set camps.

From a meteorological viewpoint, the expedition showed that an early-autumn period of fine weather lasting two to three months could be expected, which might present some advantages. However, the winds in the upper regions are so strong, and the temperatures so low, that these might well represent insurmountable obstacles to an ascent to the summit.


 

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