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Item #: OP414-374
FIVE MILES HIGH: THE STORY OF AN ATTACK ON THE SECOND HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN THE WORLD BY THE MEMBERS OF THE FIRST AMERICAN KARAKORAM EXPEDITION Bob Bates, Charles Houston 1939 1st edition Fine With Base Camp Letter from Bill House
By Bates, Robert and Charles Houston
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This copy of Five Miles High includes a letter from William P. House dated June 27, 1938. Bill House of course was a member of the 1938 team attempting K2, and had made the first ascent of Mount Waddington with Fritz Wiessner. The letter was written to John W. Watzek, co-founder of the Crossett Lumber Co of Arkansas, who Bill House had worked with as a forester. The letter was typed (!) in basecamp, and this is the original carbon copy. The letter goes into detail on how the expedition was doing, mostly in route finding. Route finding is a huge problem on K2 as there are no safe or easy routes. The letter is in excellent condition, and came to us folded and tucked into this copy of Five Miles High. That leads us to think that at some time this copy belonged to Bill House. The book is in excellent condition, with only a previous owner's name hand written on the half title page. We have copied the letter below

This is a unique piece of K2 ephemera, and is a real item that was not only created and owned by a team member, but was actually created at Base Camp on K2!

New York, 1939, 1st edition. 381 pp, ills. The major American pre-war Himalayan expedition. This 1938 expedition nearly climbed K2, and showed that Americans were capable of ascents of 8000 meter peaks. Hardcover, No DJ, Near Fine. 

This is the epic account of the 1938 American Karakoram expedition to the summit of K2, a climb considered more treacherous and difficult than Everest. Equipped with the most 'modern' gear available to them--wool mittens, canvas tents, and buckle-up, leather-strapped cramp-ons--this group of young men set out to surmount the insurmountable. A four-month-long journey would take them nearly 27,000 feet above sea level and hundreds of miles from any sign of humanity.

With a shrewd wit and a survivalist's sense of determination, four of the six climbers provide an intimate and gripping account of their adventures, evoking all the terror, excitement, and pure exaltation of standing, five miles high, on a part of the globe where no person has stood before.



From the New York Times, December 28, 1997

William P. House, 84; Blazed Trails to 2 Summits

By Wolfgang Saxon       Dec. 28, 1997

William Pendleton House, a guardian of the New Hampshire woods who scaled the world's most daunting peaks decades before it became fashionable, died last Thursday at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, N.H. He was 84 and lived in Harrisville, N.H.

The cause was cardiac arrest, said Robert H. Bates, a fellow mountaineer.

Mr. House left his mark in the Himalayas on K2, the second-highest mountain on earth, and Mount Waddington in British Columbia, which had been considered unconquerable. He discovered his passion for the ascent in college and pursued it into the 1960's, when the demands of his forestry business in Chesham put a stop to his summer explorations.

Mr. House and a colleague, Fritz H. Wiessner, entered the annals of North American mountaineering in 1936 when they climbed the main peak of Mount Waddington, king of the Coast Range northwest of Vancouver. Theirs was the 17th assault on the mountain's 13,260 feet of perilous rock and ice, which just two days before had proved too much for a another team.

In view of the mountain's reputation and 16 failed attempts to climb it, Mr. Wiessner, a 43-year-old chemist, and Mr. House, a forestry student at Yale, decided that only a fast-moving party of two could make it to the top. Leaving the rest of their party behind, they inched their way past the glacier that clung to a nearly vertical face, completed their quest and were back at their camp in a little more than 24 hours.

The 1938 expedition, led by Charles S. Houston, did not make it to the top but, at 20,000 feet, went higher than any Americans had ever climbed until then. Traveling by way of a southeastern ridge, they found a route for future climbers of K2, which was finally conquered by an Italian expedition in 1954.

William House was born in Pittsburgh. He graduated from Yale College in 1935 and from the Yale Forestry School two years later, serving as president of the Yale Mountaineering Club. He also was an honorary member of the elite American Alpine Club.

The Himalayan adventure nearly cost him his forestry job because of his absence. But a devastating storm struck New England that year, leaving plenty of work for foresters.

Mr. House was long associated with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, of which he was a past president. He worked for the well-being of the state's forests, to keep them in the public domain where possible and to help private owners improve their holdings.







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