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Item #: OP46C-942
FOUR AGAINST EVEREST Woodrow Wilson Sayre 1964 4th prtg Hardcover DJ Near Fine
By Sayre, Woodrow Wilson
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New York, 1964, 4th printing. 259 pp, 35 photos, appendices. Original gray cloth hardcover with black lettering on spine and white illustration on front cover and chipped dust jacket. Near Fine overall.  

This unauthorized attempt of Everest by the North Col route, without porters, caused quite a flap among the climbing community, but seems to be of great interest to today's climbers because of the Alpine style and bending of the rules. [Neate S11.] 

This is the true, almost unbelievable story of a daring attempt by four amateur mountaineers—a college professor, a school teacher, a lawyer and a geology student — to climb the highest peak in the world: Everest.

Without Sherpas or other porters, and with a bare minimum of money, food and equipment, this small band of adventurers, led by Woodrow Wilson Sayre, set out to climb Everest's North Face, which to date has never been conquered.

Not even bottled oxygen, considered by most professional climbers as a necessity, was taken. To make the journey even more hazardous, the expedition had to make a secret dash through Tibet to reach the North Face, risking capture, imprisonment, or even execution by the Chinese Communists, who reputedly patrol the Tibet-Nepal border.

The type of terrain the party crossed is some of the roughest in the world. Sayre recalls that the trek from Kathmandu, Nepal to base camp at the foot of Gyachung Kang was 'like walking up and down ladders from Boston to Albany.' Immediately beyond base camp the glacier 'rises 3,000 feet in a tumble of crevasses and ice blocks, and it includes two nearly vertical cliffs of around 1,000 feet.' The route then crosses some 25 miles of untracked glaciers averaging 20,000 feet in altitude. Never before in a Himalayan climb has base camp been at such a distance from the mountain to be climbed. The North Face route begins with the ascent of the North Col, which itself is a 1,500-foot-high wall of ice and snow.

The task was grueling and torturous. Carrying every ounce of their supplies for forty days on their own backs, they had to struggle towards the mountain day after day, gasping for oxygen in the extremely rarified air. At one point a huge ice block overturned and obliterated their intended route. Without medical aid, and three weeks away from help of any kind as they were, the slightest accident or misjudgment could have brought immediate disaster. Sayre himself, in three falls, slipped an incredible 1,000 feet down the North Face of Everest—and still walked out.

Each man was driven close to the breaking point. Exhaustion became a constant companion. Food rations ran logs. Before the end of the brutal journey, there was nothing left to eat, and they faced starvation.

But there are those treasured, never-to-be-forgotten moments during the expedition when Sayre tells of his feelings of pure exhilaration—'of being close to the top of the world, of taking in at a glimpse thousands of square miles of untouched country, of walking where only a handful of men have walked in the history of the world.'


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