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Item #: OP941A-952
HELVELLYN TO HIMALAYA: INCLUDING AN ACCOUNT OF THE FIRST ASCENT OF CHOMOLHARI F. Spencer Chapman 1940 1st UK ed Hardcover DJ Very Good
By Chapman, F. Spencer
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London, 1940, 1st edition. 285 pp, 48 b/w plates, foldout map, index. Blue cloth hardcover with gilt titles on faded spine and chipped dust jacket. Very Good.

At Cambridge University, Chapman night-climbed a lot of spires before coming down with a geography degree, whereupon he was attached as a ski expert and naturalist to the legendary Gino Watkins's 1930-31 British Arctic Air-Route Expedition and a subsequent Greenland Expedition in 193233. These trips, Moynahan says, allowed him to perfect his survival skills. He lost many finger- and toenails, survived more than 20 hours in a sealskin kayak during a monumental storm at sea, and learned to navigate by the stars, leading a small team across the lethal ice cap to rescue a stranded colleague.

Chapman also demonstrated a complete absence of sentimentality. He ate the still-steaming kidneys of a recently-shot polar bear, and fed a litter of puppies born to one of the bitches in his sled team to the other dogs. He also learned to speak fluent Inuit, getting on well enough with the locals to father an illegitimate son with an Inuit woman.

Before settling down to teach geography and run outdoor activities at Gordonstoun school in 1938, Chapman squeezed in a quick mountaineering expedition to the Himalayas, where he was persuaded to join a mission to find the Dalai Lama. That never happened but, on the way back in May 1937, Chapman and Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama became the first men to reach the summit of the 7,134m of Mount Chomolhari, the so-called Bride of Kanchenjunga so fearsome that it was not climbed again until 1970. He also pressed 600 plants, dried countless seeds and made copious notes on bird life.


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