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Item #: OP133A-870p
KARAKORAM AND WESTERN HIMALAYA 1909 2 Volumes Filippo de Filippi 1912 1st UK edition Hardcovers
By Filippi, Filippo de, Vittorio Sella, Duke of Abruzzi
Price: $2900.00

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Full Title:

KARAKORAM AND WESTERN HIMALAYA 1909: AN ACCOUNT OF THE EXPEDITION OF H.R.H. PRINCE LUIGI AMEDEO OF SAVOY, DUKE OF THE ABRUZZI. TWO VOLUMES.

This is a handsome example of a book that truly celebrates the Golden Age of Himalayan Mountaineering. For many collectors this is the crown jewel of books on the 8000 meter peaksConsidered by many to be the most sought after book on mountaineering. 

London, Constable, 1912, 1st UK edition. 469 pp, 36 plates, including 2nd volume of plates, panoramas and maps, photos by Vittorio Sella. Hardcovers in their original red cloth, with a much finer cloth used on the spine than on the boards. A Gold stripe adorns the area where the two cloths meet. 

Condition:

Both volumes have slight edge wear, no foxing, spines are faded, there may be some exterior soiling, gold letters are still bright, binding is tight, a very handsome copy. This set has been traveling. Two previous booksellers left either a rubber stamp mark (RSM) or a small label on the inside corner of Volume 1. The first bookseller was Grenich Agencies in Karachi, Pakistan. The later bookseller is Isseido in Tokyo, Japan. Both volumes are complete and handsome so we rate them Near Fine. 

These books are heavy and large format so extra postage will be requested for Media Mail, Priority Mail or International Mail. It weighs about 5 pounds.

The Duke made an attempt on K2 in May 1909, accompanied by guides and porters from Courmayeur, Italy, the Italian side of Mont Blanc. They reached 6250m on the SE or Abruzzi Ridge but were turned back by the difficulty of the route. The expedition explored, mapped and photographed the Baltoro Glacier area. This route has now become the standard route taken by most parties. There is no easy way up K2.

K2, the world's second highest mountain, is in the Karakoram which is a great mountain system in Northeast Pakistan and Northern India, near the Chinese border. It extends 300 miles southeastwardly from the Pamir Knot, and includes many of the world's highest peaks, and many of the world's longest glaciers. Among the high peaks is K2, 8611 m, 28,251 ft, the second highest mountain in the world. Its glaciers include, among others, the 47-mile Siachen glacier, the 36-mile Baltoro glacier, and the 76-mile combination of Hispar and Biafo, which connect at a pass.
 
The Baltoro glacier is especially significant, as ten of the world's thirty highest peaks cluster around it, including four 8,000 meter peaks (K2, Broad Peak and Gashberbrum 1 and 2) that rise very close together at the northeast head of the glacier. The Karakoram closely parallels the Himalaya, but its peaks differ from those of the Himalaya in their sharp, angular forms. Their icy peaks are often surrounded by incredible clusters of towers and spires.
 
The Karakoram also receives less monsoon activity than the Himalaya. In fact, many of the valleys deep in the range are very dry. The peaks, however, receive heavy winter precipitation, and, with or without monsoon rains, travel is made difficult by the run-off of melting snow and ice in July and August, which otherwise are the best months for mountaineering. The range is largely uninhabited, so approach to the mountains requires expedition-style planning.
 
 
Louis Amedeo, the Duke of Abruzzi, was the first Italian who played with the idea to master K2. In love with mountains ever since he was an adolescent, Louis de Savoie had already done a large number of expeditions, amongst them was the ascend of Mount Saint-Elias in Alaska (in 1897), when he decided to explore the glaciers of the Asian mountains and more particularly those of the Karakoram.

The expedition took place during spring and summer of 1909. It was preceded by intense preparations which took the Duke to London where, under a false name, he was able to study the documents concerning these far away countries and which belonged to the Royal Geographical Society. He was fluent in English and I suspect French as well.

He also went to Paris where he bought the necessary equipment. To accompany him he chose hardened and qualified mountain climbers who, during preceding teamwork, probably had shown their mettle. Filippo De Fillippi, doctor and physiologist, a member of the Saint-Elias expedition, was amongst them.
 
These men were accompanied by guides, all Valdotains from Courmayeur - like Guiseppe Petigax, who had also participated in the Saint-Elias ascent and Vittorio Sella, mountaineer and photographer, a friend of the duke and highly knowledgeable of the high mountains in Asia. The expedition left Srinagar in April 1909. After a long walk through Cashmere and the Sind valley and after some logistical stops in the Skardu oasis, the capital of Baltistan as well as Askole, the group hired 260 porters to carry their sumptuous gear, and reached the Baltoro glacier.
 
For the first time a photographer, Vittorio Sella, was able to capture K2 onto his plates. However, the mountain was not as easy to tame as they had expected. After two attempts, which took the Duke and his companions up to 6700m, the little group gave up on K2 and turned towards Bride Peak aka Chogolisa, part of the Golden Throne group. They set a new altitude record of 7493m which lasted until 1921; they went through many difficulties at 7400m and J. Pentigax H. and H. Brocherel were forced to stop at 150m from the summit because of heavy fog.
 
All this proved that after a certain period of adapting to altitude, human beings could survive at more than 6000m. Even though the main sport goal had not been attained, the explorers had obtained much information, especially the photogrammetric prints which enabled mapping at a large scale (1/100 000) of the basins of the Baltoro and Godwin Austen glaciers. They also collected a huge amount of information concerning the morphology, the lithology and the climate of the region.
 
Vittorio Sella's lovely images are without doubt one of the most valuable among the results. With the help of Erminio Botta, another photographer, he immortalized for the first time the hardships and splendors of the savage region which allowed them to definitely enter photographic history. These exposures of exceptional quality attracted other mountaineers from all over the world who now became interested in this isolated mountain range. 

Using a large camera he was able to expose glass plates of 30x40 cm, Sella took more than 800 exceptional exposures during this expedition. These photos were bought by many respectful institutions like the Royal Geographic Society, the Alpine Club in London and the Geographic Society in Washington.

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