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Item #: OP370AB-334
THE MOUNT EVEREST RECONNAISSANCE EXPEDITION. 1951, 1st UK ed DJ Near Fine SIGNED by Eric Shipton and Ed Hillary
By Shipton, Eric
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SIGNED on page 75 by Eric Shipton and on title page by Ed Hillary.

Eric Shipton did important climbs in the 1930s, late 1940s and 1950s. He was one of the greatest mountain explorers of the twentieth century. With his partner Bill Tilman he led and climbed in the Himalaya and Karakoram, plus Africa and Central Asia. He readily signed books at his lectures, but he did not go on lecture tours like these days. So we don't see many books signed by Shipton, or Tilman either. This is the expedition that put Shipton and Hillary together, setting the stage for Hillary's first ascent of Everest two years later. 

London, 1952, 1st UK edition. 128 pp, illustrations. This expedition proved that the Western Cwm would 'go', and paved the way for the 1st ascent the next year. Large-format hardcover, Minor wear to DJ, Book and DJ are Near Fine. 

Eric Shipton is one of the greatest mountaineers of the 20th 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 favour of John Hunt’s seige tactics. Nevertheless it is these small light weight expedition that 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 climbing acheivement. 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 1951 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 earthquale.

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 (and a ladies' man.)


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