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Item #: OP365G-934
THE WHITE SPIDER: THE STORY OF THE NORTH FACE OF THE EIGER 1959 1st UK ed Hardcover Fine
By Harrer, Heinrich
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London, 1959, 1st edition. 315 pp, b/w photos. Original blue cloth hardcover with no dust jacket and slightly faded spine, else Fine.

Heinrich Harrer's first ascent of the Eiger Nordwand in 1938 with Anderl Heckmair, Ludwig Vorg and Fritz Kasparek electrified the climbing world, and still arouses awe. This is one of the greatest mountaineering books. 

At 13,025 feet, the Swiss Eiger doesn't approach the height of Everest or Denali, but the sheer rise and difficulty of its 5900-foot north face keeps it in the company of the world's most celebrated peaks. At the time Harrer (Seven Years in Tibet, originally the sequel to this volume) became part of the first successful summit climb in 1938, the north face of the Eiger was considered the 'last and greatest of Alpine problems' left in the world.
 
Originally published in 1959, this riveting account of his ascent and the history of confronting the Eiger, beginning with the first fatal attempts to conquer the north face in 1935, is a crisply written paean to the mountain where Harrer first earned recognition as a world-class climber. A simple narrative style brings to life the many obstacles faced by Eiger climbers: snowstorms, avalanches, and a continuous shower of falling rocks among them.
 
Harrer has a Hemingwayesque appreciation of the codes, bravery and rules of conduct governing the closed world of 'true mountaineers.' And he reserves special contempt for the sensation-seekers who gather to watch deadly feats of climbing from the ground below. Sections that document the evolution of climbing gear (Harrer wore no crampons on his 1938 ascent) and national rivalries in the WWII-era climbing community help make this volume an important contribution to the emerging canon of mountaineering literature..

Heinrich Harrer became the most famous of the original four from the Eiger climb. After the Eiger climb he joined a 1939 expedition to Nanga Parbat, a reconnaissance, but was arrested by the British in Pakistan once WWII started. His escape from the prison camp to Tibet and subsequent life with the young Dalai Lama led to his famous book, Seven Years In Tibet.

Harrer went on to become a consummate explorer and adventurer, much like Lowell Thomas, Eric Shipton and H.W. Tilman, but Harrer didn't limit his travels to mountains. Highly appreciative of native culture, Harrer traveled the world to remote mountains and jungles to experience the untouched civilizations. His adventures include trips to remote Amazon jungle tribes, Pacific Islands, remote Himalaya, and New Guinea, where he and Philip Temple made the first ascent of Carstensz Pyramid, one of the Seven Summits [Denali, Everest, Vinson, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Carstensz or Kosciusko].

Other notable mountaineering first ascents by Heinrich Harrer were Mount Hunter and Mount Deborah in Alaska with Fred Beckey in 1954, and Ausangate (6400m) in Peru's Cordillera Vilcanota in 1953.

Anderl Heckmair, who died in 2005 at age 98, guided and climbed worldwide making ascents in the Cordillera Blanca, Canadian Rockies, Coast Range of BC, Hunza, Karakoram, Hoggar and Ruwenzori of Africa and the Alps. Among his best ascents were the first ascent of the Eiger Nordwand, early ascents of Matterhorn North Face, Grandes Jorasses Walker Spur, and Mount Waddington.

Heckmair was invited by Karl Herrligkoffer to join the 1953 Nanga Parbat expedition, where Hermann Buhl made the first ascent. Due to a personality clash with Karl Herrligkoffer, the leader of the expedition, Heckmair withdrew from the team before it left Europe. It would have been interesting to see Buhl teamed with Heckmair. Heckmair, a really tough and fit climber, may have been able to keep pace with Buhl to the summit.


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