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Item #: OP445-363
THE EXPLORATION OF THE CAUCASUS Douglas Freshfield & Vittorio Sella 1st UK edition 2 Volumes Near Fine
By Freshfield, Douglas. Photos by Vittorio Sella
Price: $1299.00


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THE EXPLORATION OF THE CAUCASUS. BY DOUGLAS W. FRESHFIELD [LATE PRESIDENT OF THE ALPINE CLUB, FORMERLY HONORARY SECRETARY OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY]. WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY VITTORIO SELLA. IN TWO VOLUMES.

London, Edward Arnold, 1896, 1st edition. 278, 290 pp. Plates & photos by Vittorio Sella and others. Maps. TEG. This large and heavy two-volume set is complete, with all illustrations, panoramas and maps. Volume I has 278 pages plus a 33' x 8' foldout panoramic view of the Caucasaus and Suanetia (Lingur Valley), and a smaller foldout map in back. Volume II has 295 pgs plus a couple of 33' x 8' foldout panoramic views of the Caucasus Mountains, a smaller foldout map, and a 38' x 17' foldout map of the Caucasus in the pocket on back endpaper. There are a total of 76 photogravure images by Vittorio Sella on tissue protected stiff plates (7' x 4 1/4' illustration surrounded by a white margin.) The plates are clean, with no tears and no foxing. The pages include lots of smaller illustrations also. The books are bound in the attractive original green cloth bindings with gilt lettering and designs.The spine is yellowed on both volumes, which is common on this book. As you can see in the photo there is almost no external wear, the bindings are tight. A Near Fine to Fine set of magnificent books.

Douglas Freshfield's visit to the Caucasus in 1868 was the start of modern mountaineering in ranges beyond the Alps. With A.W. Moore and C.C. Tucker he ascended the lower peak of Elbrus, as well as Kazbek. This is a first edition of this finely illustrated mountaineering book. During the course of three journeys, in 1868, 1887, and 1889, Freshfield traversed the main chain of the Caucasus eleven times by eight different passes, and crossed in and out of Svanetia eight times by seven different routes.

He took part in the ascent of three of the great peaks, Elbruz, Kasbek, and Tetnuld, in addition to several lesser summits. Also included here are accounts of the ascents of other peaks by several of his friends in the Alpine Club, H.Wooley, J.G.Cockin, and H.W.Holder. The illustrations are after photographs by Vittorio Sella, M. De Déchy, H.Woolley, W.F.Donkin, and S.Sommier. This magnificent two volume set is the primary work on the Caucasus, and a monument to book art as well as mountaineering.

A nice set of Douglas Freshfield' s monumental and classic work on the Caucasus; enhanced with many photographs by Vittorio Sella and others, as well as folding panoramas and maps. Douglas William Freshfield [1845-1934] was a former President of the Alpine Club and an honorary secretary of the Royal Geographical Society. He travelled widely in the Middle East Holy Land, for second only to his love of mountains was his interest in classical history.

In 1868, 1887 and 1889 he went on exploring expeditions with Charles Comyns Tucker, Adolphus Warburton Moore, and his lifelong friend François Devouassoud, into the central Caucasus which, except for the lower heights, were then unknown. He made the first ascent of Kazbek (16,546 ft.), Elbruz (18,470 ft.), and several other peaks. Freshfield traversed the Caucasus a total of eleven times via eight different passes. 'Exploration of the Caucasus' remains the best work on the subject. According to Neate [in 'Mountaineering literature']: 'A magnificent work compiled and illustrated by Freshfield and his friends'. Neate deems Freshfield 'one of the great mountain explorers' and 'also one of the most scholarly and sensitive of mountain writers.'

According to Baker, 'A turning point in the exploration of the Caucasus came with the journey of Mr Douglas Freshfield in 1868 . In that year Freshfield, with two companions and an Alpine guide, climbed Kasbek and Elbruz peaks, and visited the more important valleys between them on the south side of the mountains, discovering a number of great peaks in the course of his journey . M. de. Déchy made a number of journeys, the last in company with Freshfield, while in each year between 1886 and 1891 seperate expeditions attacked the lesser-known parts of the range. Among the last that of V. Sella is notable, not only for the magnificent photographic work accomplished, but also because he anticipated the Russian surveyors in parts of the Suanetian range.'

From the Preface: 'By the general consent of all who are interested in the exploration of the Caucasus, the time has fully come for putting together some of the documents relating to this great and still imperfectly known mountain chain. The discovery of the region above the snow level, the conquest of most of the great peaks, and the partial mapping of the glaciers by Englishmen, the illustration of the Frosty Caucasus in a superb collection of photographs taken at heights extending up to 16,500 feet by Signor Vittorio Sella, M. de Dechy, Mr. Clinton Dent, Mr. H. Woolly and the late Mr. W. F. Donkin, and the re-survey by the Caucasion Government, under the direction of the late General Shdanov, and since his death of General Kulberg, of the central chain, have placed a mass of varied material at my disposal. This material is at present scattered, and difficult of access to the public. The early records of English mountaineering are out of print or scarce; more recent explorations are recounted - and buried - in the obscure Journals of Societies or Alpine Clubs; the photographs of the range can only be found in any completeness in the splendid, but too little known, collection in the Geographical Society's Map-Room at Savile Row; the sheets of the new Russian one-verst-to-the-inch map are still, for the most part, unpublished.

'In these volumes I have endeavoured to bring together some of this miscellaneous matter, and to make my chapters such a series of sketches of the Central Caucasus, its scenery and its people, as may stir pleasureable memories, or anticipations, among travellers, and also interest that great body of readers who love mountains and like to hear about their exploration. The arrangement of the book is in the main topographical: that is to say, I have abandoned chronological order and continuity in the narrative of particular journeys in order to bring together the facts concerning each district, or portion of the chain, into single, or consecutive, chapters. The method has its drawbacks; but on the whole these have seemed to me in the present instance to be more than counterbalanced by its advantages. The record of adventure may be less vivid, but the pictures of the country and its people should gain in definiteness, and it ought to be easier to select characteristic facts from among trivial details.....'

Contents of Volume I include: the discoverers of the Caucasus; the characteristics of the Caucasus; Caucasian history and travel; Kasbek and hte Ossete District; the Mamison Pass and Gebi; The Adai Khokh Group; the Valley of the Urukh Vol. I; Balkar and Bezingi; the paths to Suanetia; Suanetia; Travel and Mountaineering in Suanetia 1868-87-89; the ascent of Tetnuld.

Illustrations of Volume I include: the Weeds of the Zeskho Valley; Ushba Group from Ciat Bashi; Tetnuld and the Adish Glacier; Mountains North of the Urukh from Zikhvarga; the Karagom Glacier and Burdjula; Zeskho; Ushra from above Betsho; Kasbek from the Post-Station; Inhabitants of Zinago: Ossetes; Zikhvarga and Burdjula from the forests of the Rion; Gebi from the North; Fountain at Gebi; Crowd at Gebi; The ice-falls of the Karagom Glacier; The Adai Khokh Group from Shoda; The Zea Valley; Adai Khokh and Burdjula; The Urukh Valley; Stir-Digor and Laboda; Laboda from the Shtuluvsek; Karaul; A Bezingi Crowd; Janga and Shkara from the South; Near the Sources of the Rion; Shkara fromteh Zena VAlley; Ailama (or Koruldu) from the Zena Valley; the Tuiber Glacier; Ushba from the Laila; the Laila peaks from Lenjer; Women at Latai; Ushkul and Shkara; Ushba from Ezeri; Ushba from Mesik at Dawn; Tetnuld and Gestola from above Mulakh; Adish; Towers at Mujal; Ancient Church at Mujal.

Maps of Volume I include: General Map of the Caucasus.

Panoramas of Volume I include: The Chain of the Caucasus and Suanetia (Ingur Valley) from the Laila Range, 13,400 feet.

Contents of Volume II include: the Zanner Pass and Ukiu; Mountaineering in 1888, Dykhtau and Katuintau; mountaineering in 1888, Shkara, Janga, and Ushba; Search and Travel in 1889; the Ascent of Koshtantau; Chegem; the Passes of the Baksan; Urusbieh and Elbruz; the sources of the Kuban; the solitude of Abkhasia;the physical history of hte Caucasus; Topographical and Travllers' notes and climbers' Record; Table of Mean Temperatures and Rainfalls; Heights of the lower terminations of some the principal Caucasian Glaciers; notes on the maps and illustrations; a short list of books rcommende to those interested in the Central Caucasus.

Illustrations of Volume II include: Dyhtau from the West; Dykhtau and Koshtantau from the Salynan Ridge; Ukiu from the East; Missess Kosh and Gestola; Janga, Katuintau, and Gestola; Shkara from above the Dykhsu Pass; Ailama; Janga and the Kalde Glen; Ushba from Slopes of Gul Glen; The Central Group from Ushba; Koshtantau and the Ulluauz Glacier; Dykhsu Glacier and Shkara; Koshtantau and Dykhtau from the Shtuluvsek; the Last Bivouac on Kashtantau; etc. etc.

Maps in Volume II include: map of the Klukhor Group; Geological map ofthe Central Caucasus; map of Peaks, Passes, and glaciers of the Central Caucasus.

Panoramas of Volume II include: the Central Group from Fyntnargyn Rige; the Central Caucasus from a height of 16,500 feet on the Eastern Peak of Elbruz

Two large and thick Quarto - sized hardcover books; xxiii + 278 + x + 295 pages of text, 76 full-page illustrations, 4 maps, 3 panoramas, 51 + 69 in-text illustrations, and 10 + 12 vignettes. Very Good condition: no writing or markings in the text; no torn or missing pages; all illusrations complete and undamaged; page edges untrimmed, top edges of pages gilt. The hinges are firm but the text blocks are very heavy and some pages are starting to loosen; these books should be handled with care to prevent damage to the sewing of the binding. Original green cloth bindings with gilt lettering and gilt design on boards; light wear to edges and corners; minor wrinkling to cloth; darkening and some discoloration to cloth on spine. Overall solid and attractive volumes of this fascinating and very scarce set..

Douglas William Freshfield

 
(1845-1934), English explorer and mountaineer, the only son of Henry R. Freshfield. In 1869 he married Augusta Charlotte, daughter of the Honble. W. Ritchie, Advocate-General of Calcutta. He had a son who to his everlasting grief died in boyhood.

Douglas Freshfield was a prominent member of the Royal Geographical Society. He was a pioneer climber in the Caucasus, the Himalayas, and the mountainous regions of many other countries. Although the dominating interest of his life was mountain exploration, and though he continuously devoted his leisure to the affairs of Royal Geographical Society and of his beloved Alpine Club, he found time for many other activities. He served for several years as Treasurer of the Hellenic and Roman Societies, as Chairman of the Committe of the Society of Authors.

In 1899 he visited India, Burma, and Ceylon, accomplishing his second greatest journey of exploration by the first circuit of Kangchenjunga. He was accompanied by Professor Garwood, who produced a map which was considered the best for the whole district. His last great journey was made at sixty years of age. Returning from the meeting of the British Association in South Africa in 1905 when he made an attempt on Ruwenzori, then still known as the mysterious Mountains of the Moon. Mr. Freshfield edited the Alpine Journal and wrote The Exploration of the Caucasus, Round Kangchenjunga, Italian Alps, a biography of H. B. de Saussure, and Below the Snow Line.

Vittorio Sella [1859 - 1943]

He was the Italian alpinist and photographer who accompanied the 1906 Abruzzi Rwenzori expedition and who was perhaps the greatest of all alpine photographers. It was Sella who first recorded the landscape, plants and people of the Rwenzori in extensive and intimate detail, and to whom we refer for clarity of the historical record and pure artistic beauty. It is particularly interesting to note how far the glaciers of the Rwenzori have receded since these photographs were taken, nearly 90 years ago. Vittorio Sella was born in Biella, Italy, to father who was a successful textile industrialist and scientist ad who, in 1856, had been the first Italian to write a treatise on photography. Vittorio owed his interest in the mountains to his uncle, Quintino, founder of the Alpine Club of Italy.

 
As a young man, Vittorio had worked as a chemist in his father's textile factory, but it was his passion for taking beautiful panoramic photographs of the mountains which made him famous. From 1880 to 1893 he compiled a detailed portfolio of the Alps, combining his photography with impressive alpinism, such as the first winter traverse of the Matterhorn in 1882. He made three expeditions to the Caucasus, in 1889, 1890 and 1896, for which his photography received awards from Britain's Royal Geographical Society. In 1899 he accompanied his friend the alpinist D. W. Freshfield on a difficult exploration of Kanchenjunga in Sikkim. The Duke of Abruzzi greatly admired Sella's work and invited him to be the official photographer for the expeditions in 1897 to Mount St Elias in Alaska, in 1909 to the Karakoram. The highest summit on Mount Luigi di Savoia in the Rwenzori was named Sella Peak in his honour.

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