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HOLD THE HEIGHTS: THE FOUNDATIONS OF MOUNTAINEERING Walt Unsworth 1994 1st US ed Hardcover DJ Fine 3 Copies Available
By Unsworth, Walt
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Seattle, Mountaineers, 1994, 1st US edition. 432 pp, 24 pp of b/w photos. Hardcover with dust jacket. Fine.

A history of mountaineering, from the earliest ascents to today's interest in rock climbing and mountaineering. Originally men feared the mountains as the home of gods or dragons.

The notion of climbing mountains for pure pleasure was slow to take hold, despite the intrepid ascent of Mont Aiguille by a fifteenth-century French courtier. For all its cloak of scientific respectability, the race for Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in western Europe, held all the seeds of later mountaineering controversy - sponsorship, competition, mixed motives, chauvinism, accusations of bad faith, and unresolved recrimination. But it was a beginning. By the middle of the next century all the great Alpine summits had been climbed and, on the Matterhorn in 1865, climbing had suffered its first sensational disaster.

Queen Victoria wondered if she should put a stop to it. Fortunately, she was counselled otherwise. In Hold the Heights, Walt Unsworth presents a comprehensive history of world mountaineering, from the first recorded ascent to the conquests of Everest and Nanga Parbat in 1953 - milestone ascents that ushered in new eras of exploration. Beginning with a major reassessment of the late-Victorian Alpine Club worthies, Unsworth then traces how the initiative passed from the British pioneers to European climbers, as elegance of route and rock-climbing skill came to the fore and mountaineering shifted from stamina to athleticism.

He examines the emergence of technical climbing from the Dolomites, the influence of the Munich School through the thirties, the assaults on the great north faces by climbers whose brilliance was rewarded with medals from Hitler. Beyond Europe, the exploratory style of climbing favored by the British held sway much longer in the great ranges of the Himalaya and the Karakoram, as Mallory, Irvine, Mummery and the like lost their lives in contests against the unknown effects of high-altitude on man.

From this vast frontier comes the story of the British obsession with Everest, the Germans' with Nanga Parbat, and the exploits of the Italians and Americans on K2.From the Critics: Library Journal: 'Changes in adventure climbing and the exploding interest in sport climbing over the past 40 years are not covered in this study of recorded mountaineering by the author of Peeks, Passes and Glaciers (1981). The account begins with the June 1492 climb of Mont Aiguille in the French Alps and concludes with the ascents of Mount Everest and Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas in 1953.

Included are both major and less well known climbs and climbers, in addition to full accounts of particular eras and noted climbing areas. Extensive notes and a lengthy bibliography conclude a history that currently has no other competition in print.' Booknews: ' A chronological analysis of mountaineering from the 15th century to the milestone ascents of Everest and Nanga Parbat in 1953. Delving into the relationship between the sport and social attitudes, considers expeditions in the Alps in the 1800s and of the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges later, the emergence of technical climbing, the development of American methods separately from European traditions, and other topics. For enthusiasts, armchair enthusiasts, and those curious about why anyone would be either.' 


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