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Item #: OP2237AB-877
FORERUNNERS TO EVEREST: THE STORY OF THE TWO SWISS EXPEDITIONS OF 1952 Rene Dittert, Gabriel Chevalley, Raymond Lambert 1954 1st UK edition Hardcover DJ Fine SIGNED by Ernst Reiss
By Dittert, Rene, Gabriel Chevalley, Raymond Lambert
Price: $129.95


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SIGNED by Ernst Reiss

London, 1954, 1st UK edition. 256 pp, 25 photos, 9 maps. This book addresses two Swiss expeditions that nearly reached the top of Everest a year before Hillary and Tenzing. [Neate D32.] Original turquoise cloth hardcover with silver lettering on spine and
embossed Swiss symbol on front cover; Hardcover dust jacket, Fine. 

Ernst Reiss who was a member of the Autumn expedition described in this book, made the first ascent of Lhotse (4th highest mountain in the world) in 1956.



On this UK edition, the dust jacket has a brown spine and upper band on the front cover of the DJ. The USA edition's spine and upper band on the dust jacket is black, and the book is dark blue.
 

Expedition supported by the SFAR Everest, spring 1952

Excerpt from: Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, 1939 to 1970. Published in Zurich in 1972

Participants: Dr. med. Edouard Wyss-Dunant, expedition leader; René Dittert, lead climber; Dr. med. Gabriel Chevalley, expedition doctor; Jean-Jacques Asper; René Aubert; Léon Flory; Ernest Hofstetter; Raymond Lambert; André Roch, all from Geneva. They were joined by a study group from the University of Geneva, made up of the geologist Prof. Dr. Augustin Lombard, the ethnologist Mme Marguerite Lobsiger and the botanist Albert Zimmermann.

Outcomes: Conquest of the Khumbu ice fall; ascent of the South Col (7986 m). Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing reached a height of about 8500 metres on the south-west ridge of Everest.

The doctor from Geneva, Edouard Wyss-Dunant, was appointed leader of this expedition. He was circumspect, calm, widely-educated and already experienced in the Himalayas. All the expedition’s participants were from Geneva, they almost all belonged to the exclusive L'Androsace climbing club, they knew each other very well, and they formed a first-class mountaineering team. There had hardly ever been such a close-knit, fully homogeneous group of mountain climbers, all inspired by the same sense of enthusiasm. As well as the leader, Wyss-Dunant, Dr. Gabriel Chevalley, André Roch and Rene Dittert also had experience of the Himalayas. 

The city and Canton of Geneva provided moral and financial support for the expedition, and the University of Geneva provided the scientific contingent. It was no exaggeration to say that this was a Genevan expedition.

The task that this team had set itself in relation to mountaineering comprised primarily of the exploration of the access to the South Col, the conquest of the labyrinthine Khumbu ice fall and possibly the advance to the South Col. No attempt at an ascent of Everest was ever under consideration in this case.

The results of this first Swiss Everest expedition are remarkable, and exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. At the first attempt, they had opened up a new route to Everest, and had reached an extraordinary height on the southwestern ridge in difficult conditions. In the opinion of the extremely critical Marcel Kurz, this expedition could almost be compared to a victory.

Expeditions supported by the SFAR Everest, autumn 1952

Excerpt from: Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, 1939 to 1970. Published in Zurich in 1972

Participants: Dr. med. Gabriel Chevalley, doctor and expedition leader; Raymond Lambert, lead climber; Jean Buzio; Gustave Gross; Ernst Reiss; Arthur Spöhel; Norman G. Dyhrenfurth, cameraman.

Outcomes: Ascent of the south-west ridge of Everest, up to a height of 8100 metres. Exploration of the Lhotse glacier. Important meteorological results. Expedition film. Comprehensive photographic records.

Approval had been granted for an additional ascent of Everest in the autumn, and the results of the spring expedition had led to new hope. Preparations were therefore made for an autumn expedition as soon as the participants had returned, in the middle of July. The intention was to have one last chance, since approval had already been granted to the British for the following year. It was intended that the new expedition should benefit directly from the experience gained previously. Only Dr. Gabriel Chevalley and Raymond Lambert were available from the past members. The former was appointed leader of the undertaking, while Lambert was appointed lead climber.

Two French-speaking Swiss men, Gustave Gross and Jean Buzio and two German-speaking Swiss men, Ernst Reiss and Arthur Spöhel were also chosen. Each of these men already had a glittering mountaineering career behind them, but no experience in the Himalayas. Time ran out before a sufficiently strong assault party could be assembled, so the gap would have to be filled by the best available Sherpas. This new team did not have the same inner cohesion as the first, nor its irresistible flair. The combination of the functions of expedition leader and doctor in the same person also proved to be less than perfect. The expedition was equipped in a record time of one month, though much more material had to be ordered because much lower temperatures were to be expected. They took new oxygen equipment and more oxygen cylinders with them.

This expedition was not blessed with particularly good luck from the very beginning. The influence of the first expedition was too powerful, although the conditions and circumstances were quite different. Nevertheless, further valuable experience was gathered. This included the proof that the Lhotse glacier was passable, and that it offered the opportunity to set camps. From a meteorological viewpoint, the expedition showed that an early-autumn period of fine weather lasting two to three months could be expected, which might present some advantages. However, the winds in the upper regions are so strong, and the temperatures so low, that these might well represent insurmountable obstacles to an ascent to the summit.


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