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Item #: OP471-931
TOTAL ALPINISM Rene Desmaison 1982 1st UK ed Hardcover DJ Fine
By Desmaison, Rene
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London, 1982, 1st edition. 202 pp, 16 b/w plates. Hardcover with dust jacket. Fine.

Life story and climbs of one of the greatest French Alpinists. Total Alpinism is an autobiographical work of considerable power. Many of Desmaison's major climbs are described, among them the first ascent of the French Route on the Cima Ovest and a series of winter climbs, including L'Olan (North-West Face), the Central Pillar of Freney, and the Shroud.

Desmaison, always in the center of controversy in Frrench climbing circles, discusses his experiences with uncompromising directness. His involvement, with Gary Hemming and Mick Burke, in the dramatic rescue of two German climbers from the Dru, brought him into conflict with the Chamonix rescue establishment, and his attempt to force a new route up the left side of the Walker Spur ended in dispute and recrimination. 

Desmaison's description of this climb, as he and the doomed Serge Gousseault slowly progressed up the icy walls until storms and fatigue brought them to a standstill, is one of the most moving passages of Alpine narrative ever written.

In a prolific 40-year climbing career Desmaison would eventually make more than 1,000 climbs (including 114 first ascents). Nevertheless he remained marked by the 1971 tragedy all his life. Reflecting on the price to be paid for success on extreme alpine routes he wrote: 'It is for such moments of triumph as this that the mountains exact their pitiless toll. Logic asks why; but the question itself is meaningless. Only the passion and the agony are real."

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