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Item #: OP106N-113
ANNAPURNA FIRST CONQUEST OF AN 8000-METER PEAK [26,493 feet] Maurice Herzog 1953 1st US ed Hardcover DJ Near Fine [Not Signed]
By Herzog, Maurice
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Detailed Product Description
New York, 1953, 1st US edition. 316 pages, b/w and color photos. Hardcover with chipped dust jacket, book is near fine. Near Fine condition. (Not signed)
 
While Maurice Herzog was alive, we visited him many times in Paris and the USA, and he autographed many books for us. As he was in his 80s and 90s, we realized we could not wait until we had only perfect copies for him to autograph, so he signed many books without dust jackets. Since 2013, we have bought several copies in order to obtain dust jackets for the signed books we have, so we have a surplus of unsigned copies without dust jackets. This one happens to still have one, which is rare for one of our unsigned copies.
 
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.


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