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Item #: OP260B-355p
THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ST. ELIAS [ALASKA] BY H.R.H. PRINCE LUIGI AMEDEO DI SAVOIA, DUKE OF THE ABRUZZI Filippo de Filippi 1900 1st UK ed Near Fine
By Filippi, Filippo de, Photographs by Vittorio Sella, Duke of the Abruzzi
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THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ST. ELIAS [ALASKA] BY H.R.H. PRINCE LUIGI AMEDEO DI SAVOIA, DUKE OF THE ABRUZZI

London, Constable, 1900, 1st UK edition. 241 pp, 34 plates, ills, fold-out maps and panoramas. TEG. Photos by Vittorio Sella. This is a tall hardcover book, 11 inches tall. It is bound in the original green cloth hardcover with a dark green plate on cover, another on the spine with gold lettering. There is some edge wear on the corners and the top and bottom of spine. Interior clean, tight and solid with new endpapers and a re-sewn binding.  Overall Very Good or Near Fine condition.

All copies of this book eventually need binding repair as the original Gutta Percha glue that bound them has dried out in the last 120 years. This copy has been properly sewn with a conventional binding, and has new endpapers, and from the outside no repair is visible.

Due to the size and weight of this book, extra postage will be requested for Media Mail, Priority Mail or International Mail.

A magnificent book, the finest on any North American climb. The Duke of Abruzzi traveled in style, with Italian mountain guides, folding metal beds, and I am sure plenty of Italian wine. This expedition succeeded in making the first ascent of St. Elias. [Neate F24.]

Why did they climb St Elias and not Denali? The world was still being discovered in 1741 when St Elias was first seen by Vitus Bering, and by 1897 when the Duke climbed it, they were still unsure of the altitudes of of the high mountains they could see from the deck of their sailing ships. For years St Elias was thought to be the highest mountain in the world. They could not see Denali from their ship. 

A similar sequence happened on Chimborazo in Ecuador. It was a candidate for being the highest mountain the world, or certainly the new world. Until the beginning of the 19th century, it was thought that Chimborazo was the highest mountain on Earth (measured from sea level), and such reputation led to many attempts on its summit during the 17th and 18th centuries. That is why Edward Whymper went half way around the world to climb it in 1880, only 15 years after he climbed the Matterhorn. He knew the Matterhorn was not the highest mountain in the Alps, but the new world's mountain were still wide open. And you cannot see and measure Aconcagua from a sailing ship!

Duke of the Abruzzi
 
Luigi Amedeo di Savoy, the Duke of Abruzzi [1873 - 1933] was born in Madrid to the then king of Spain, also a Savoy, who abdicated his throne only a few weeks after his son's birth and returned to Italy. When he was six years old, young Luigi was assigned to the Italian Navy and received his entire education in military schools. A man of great energy and imagination, at the age of 24 he organized and led the expedition that made the first ascent of Mount St Elias [5,484 meters] in Alaska in 1897.

Two years later he led an expedition to the North Pole which reached a latitude 86^34' north, a new record at the time. In 1906 he led the Ruwenzori expedition which climbed all the major peaks and made the most extensive exploration of the range before or since.

A few years later, in 1909, he organized an expedition to the Karakoram and set the record to the highest altitude yet achieved by ascending the second highest mountain in the world, K2, to a height of about 7,500 meters [24,600 feet], along the route that today bears his name, the Abruzzi ridge.

Vittorio Sella [1859 - 1943] was the Italian alpinist and photographer who accompanied the 1906 Abruzzi Ruwenzori expedition and who was perhaps the greatest of all alpine photographers. It was Sella who first recorded the landscape, plants and people of the Ruwenzori in extensive and intimate detail, and to whom we refer for clarity of the historical record and pure artistic beauty. It is particularly interesting to note how far the glaciers of the Ruwenzori have receded since these photographs were taken, nearly 90 years ago. Vittorio Sella was born in Biella, Italy, to father who was a successful textile industrialist and scientist ad who, in 1856, had been the first Italian to write a treatise on photography. Vittorio owed his interest in the mountains to his uncle, Quintino, founder of the Alpine Club of Italy.

As a young man, Vittorio had worked as a chemist in his father's textile factory, but it was his passion for taking beautiful panoramic photographs of the mountains which made him famous. From 1880 to 1893 he compiled a detailed portfolio of the Alps, combining his photography with impressive alpinism, such as the first winter traverse of the Matterhorn in 1882.

He made three expeditions to the Caucasus, in 1889, 1890 and 1896, for which his photography received awards from Britain's Royal Geographical Society. In 1899 he accompanied his friend the alpinist D. W. Freshfield on a difficult exploration of Kanchenjunga in Sikkim. The Duke of Abruzzi greatly admired Sella's work and invited him to be the official photographer for the expeditions in 1897 to Mount St Elias in Alaska, in 1909 to the Karakoram. The highest summit on Mount Luigi di Savoia in the Ruwenzori was named Sella Peak in his honor.

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