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Item #: OP36-6772
KONGUR: CHINA'S ELUSIVE SUMMIT Chris Bonington 1982 1st UK ed Hardcover DJ 2 Copies Available
By Bonington, Chris
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London, 1982, 1st UK edition. An Alpine style Himalayan ascent, one of the first into a reopened Tibet. Peter Boardman, Joe Tasker, Al Rouse and Bonington made a neat first ascent. Hardcover, DJ, Near Fine.  

 
The British Mount Kongur expedition in the early 1980's was first to be allowed into the region by China, and its choice was a 7,719 metre peak in Southern Xinjiang province. This book blends the excitement of a climbing exploration with a layman's summary of a valuable high-altitude scientific programme, all taking place in the remote world of Chinese Central Asia. Outstanding photography, gripping narrative.

The unexplored mountains of Tibet and Chinese Central Asia have been a focus of fascination ever since the 1950s when the main Himalayan chain was opened to the west. Gazing north from the summits of Everest or K2, climbers have yearned for access to the unnamed endless ranges, melting into a distant brown and purple horizon.

In the 1980s the Chinese Mountaineering Association started to open some of the peaks in its great mountaineering treasury to foreigners. The British Mount Kongur expedition was the first to be allowed into China, its choice a 7719 metre peak in Southern Xinjiang province.

Its purpose was twofold - to combine a four-man alpine-style ascent of one of the world's highest unclimbed peaks with the research of a four-man scientific team, under the direction of the expedition leader, Michael Ward.

First, however, like Herzog on Annapurna, they had to find a line of approach, and to this end a reconnaissance expedition was mounted in 1980. Chris Bonington, Michael Ward and A1 Rouse explored Kongur from its forbidding north and more accessible southern aspects and, among the Kirghiz and Uighur people, encountered a whole world rarely visited by westerners since Eric Shipton was British Consul General in Kashgar.

In their mountain exploration they crossed cols where possibly no one had travelled before, and climbed unnamed 6000 metre peaks from whose summits the views of the Kongur massif were magnificent but daunting. Nowhere did they find a viewpoint from which their entire proposed route was visible. Kongur was to retain its mystery.

The 1981 climbing team of Chris Bonington, Peter Boardman, A1 Rouse and Joe Tasker were at first halted by appalling weather, by frighteningly unconsolidated snow, and the sheer deceptive scale of the final summit pyramid at whose foot they turned back. This distinctive triangle of steep ice clad rock which formed the crux of the climb remained remote, seldom fully visible, making success uncertain to the very end.

On their second attempt they spent four nights immured in snow `coffins' waiting for the storm to subside before making the final successful push for the summit.

Chris Bonington tells an exciting climbing narrative with great verve, honesty and the sheer readability readers have come to expect from the author of Everest the Hard Way and Quest For Adventure. But this was only part of the story. At Base Camp the scientists, Michael Ward, Charles Clarke, Jim Milledge and Edward Williams, monitored the climbers' performance and obtained valuable data to help research into oxygen lack related illnesses such as chronic lung and heart disease, and being no mean climbers themselves, they carried loads in support of the climbing team to over 6000 metres.

Kongur, China's Elusive Summit blends the excitement of climbing exploration in the best tradition of Shipton and Tilman, with a layman's summary of a valuable high altitude scientific program, all taking place in the remote world west of the Karakol Lakes where the ancient horseback game of buzkashi is still played at furious speed, and the influence of Peking, 2500 miles away to the east, is filtered through the timeless nomadic lifestyle of the people of the old Silk Road.


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